Sunak apologises for wearing trendy trainers

It was the picture that launched warnings of the “death” of a popular trainer: the prime minister in a box-fresh pair of Adidas Sambas, paired with suit trousers and a white shirt. 

He was accused of “ruining” an “eternally cool sneaker” by GQ, while other magazines rushed to offer lists of alternative trainers after Rishi Sunak “killed” the Samba’s credibility.

Now he has offered a “fulsome apology to the Samba community”.

In a video posted on social media last week, Mr Sunak – who claimed he is a “longtime devotee” of the brand – was shown wearing the white trainers during an interview in Downing Street.

Footwear historian Elizabeth Semmelhack told The Times it could prove to be “the death knell” for the retro trainer.

The prime minister acknowledged the uproar for the first time on Wednesday.

“I issue a fulsome apology to the Samba community,” he told LBC Radio.

“But, in my defence, I would say I have been wearing Adidas trainers including Sambas – and others, in fact – for many, many years.

“The first pair my brother got for me many, many years ago – my first pair of fun Adidas trainers as a Christmas present. I haven’t looked back since. So I’ve been a longtime devotee.”


He added: “That pair [in the video] I did buy, but I’ve had Adidas trainers for a very long time.”

But Mr Sunak, who has also faced questions about the short length of his trousers, said he is “intrigued and amused by the amount of focus on what I’m wearing”.

This isn’t the first time the prime minister has made headlines because of his shoes.

In 2023, he was mocked for wearing Timbaland boots during a speech about the government’s drive to “stop the boats”, with people pointing out they were disproportionately large.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during a press conference as he gives an update on the progress made in the six months since he introduced the Illegal Migration Bill under his plans to "stop the boats", at Western Jet Foil in Dover, Britain. Picture date: Monday June 5, 2023. Yui Mok/Pool via REUTERS
Sunak in June. Pic: Yui Mok/Reuters

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It wasn’t long before people started making memes online, some showing Mr Sunak in one giant boot, others saying he should instead “stop the boots”.

The year before that, he was criticised for wearing a £490 pair of suede Prada shoes to a building site.

And in 2021, people were quick to point out his £95 sliders as he prepared to deliver the budget.

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