Tabi footwear, a niche footwear that has become mainstream

How Tabi Margiela Became Celebrity Favorites

When the Tabi boots first appeared in 1988, they made an impression. This was not only because Martin Margiela’s models stepped on red paint before stepping onto the runway – a moment that has remained engraved in fashion history – but also for the simple reason that Western audiences have never seen split-toe shoes. two, like a sheep’s hoof. Tabi is half-human, half-animal and continues to command uncanny admiration among celebrities and art aficionados.

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Tabi shoes, origin

In truth, this shoe was not Margiela’s original idea, which used the deconstruction and reconstruction of pre-existing forms, but it still remains a status symbol for trendsetters and aesthetes looking to conquer a piece of fashion history. The origin of the Margiela tabi can be traced back to 15th century Japan, where socks with the big toe separated from the other toes were believed to promote holistic and physical balance. Initially, such slippers were intended for the idleness of the elite, but with the opening of cotton routes to China and the addition of tabi rubber soles – or jika-tabi – became the standard footwear of the working class

Other fashion brands such as Nike and Vetements have given their interpretations (Nike’s Air Rift is one of the most famous), but no model has garnered the level of feverish devotion that Margel’s version has. “The Tabi boots are the most important step in my career,” the designer told his first dealer, Gert Bruluth, on the occasion of MoMu in Antwerp in 2015. “They are recognizable, they continue to work even after 25 years. years and it has never been copied.

It takes a certain level of intelligence to see beauty in something so hideous, or to be attracted to a form that defies common aesthetic sense, but Taby is just the kind of problematic architecture that Margiela can’t resist. And if there’s one thing tabis love to wear, it’s the hyperconceptualization of their clothes and accessories, even though many of them are the product of budgetary constraints. The designer turned his first painted runway into a duct tape vest and showed off the same Tabi shoes season after season because he couldn’t afford to create new ones. “After a few collections, people started asking for them. And he wanted more and more … And since then, thank God, he has not ceased to want them, ”recalls Marzhela. It all had a rebellious, anti-fashion tinge, long before there were Instagram accounts for fashion fanatics or Emily wore them in Paris.

Tabi shoes: boots, moccasins and cleavage

Such was the shoe’s success that the brand created moccasins, cowboy boots, and a small stiletto heel that had a cold-threatening edge. But at a time when the market is teeming with divisive footwear like Martina Rose football boots and big yellow MSCHF sneakers, Tabi shoes seem less provocative than they once were. Even Dua Lipa, Zendaya and Cardi B wear the split-toe with the same formal crispness as a pair of classic Chanel pumps. It used to take a little sass to walk around with your big toe separated from the rest, but now you just have to be on the right side of Instagram, the one where “alternative girls” post nihilistic memes and blurry close-ups of their dinner parties.

However, fashionistas probably won’t be happy with Tabi boots, and neither will a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. That means aspiring Central Saint Martins students and fashion saleswomen are buying them in an attempt to distance themselves from “clean girls” and quiet luxury, sending a signal that says, “I know how to spell Ann Demeulemeester without even Google the name.” . Tabi shoes are decidedly expensive – the cheapest flats start at €750 – but their perceived fashion capital is far more valuable. If you wear these shoes, not only are you a fashion expert (or you want others to believe you are), but you’re also ready to endure puzzled looks on public transport. It’s all part of the “look at this, isn’t that weird” attitude typical of Margiela’s diehard fan.

Tabi shoes and celebrities

Celebrities enjoy a little more freedom when it comes to playing with clothes – being rich and famous, they can cross certain boundaries without risking ostracism, and wearing Tabi shoes makes them full members of the nation’s coolest elite. fashion connoisseurs. But the moment some of the world’s most popular personalities wear them, the shoe loses its intrinsic appeal. It’s not necessarily bad. Culture is changing and taboo fashion is held high by a variety of designers, including Abraham Ortugno, whose creations for Jonathan Anderson and Loewe include high heels and 3D printed dog paw sneakers. Kind of like what you see on @larslala’s Instagram account, where some of the creepiest shoes are treated as sensual objects.

All this to the point that if you really want to be alternative and provocative, Vibram FiveFingers might be the last remaining option.

House of Margiela

House of Margiela

House of Margiela

House of Margiela

House of Margiela

House of Margiela

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This article was originally published in British Vogue.

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