Introduced at the very first show of the Maison, for the Spring-Summer 1989 season, the Tabi shoe takes inspiration from the traditional Japanese split-toe sock, bearing the same name. A “heritage classic” of the Maison, which perfectly captures its avant-garde and insubordinate spirit, this footwear piece has been revisited in different traditions throughout the history of the fashion house.
A Split-Toe Story
Dating back to 15th century Japan, what was referred to as “Tabi” was a clove toe pair of socks designed to wear Getas, traditional wooden platform sandals with a centered thong strap. The accessory gained popularity for its utilitarian design and eventually grew into a staple piece in the Wafuku, or Japanese costume. The style was developed by Margiela following a trip to Japan 30 years ago for its debut show and the Tabi technique was initially applied onto a womenswear ankle boot form with a signature hook fastening embellished by the iconic white paint color.
The Tabi Today
With the arrival of John Galliano as artistic director of the Maison, the accessory witnessed a strong comeback by being reworked through a contemporary yet groundbreaking spirit. The Tabi scuba boot in neoprene was the first of such creation, introduced in the Spring-Summer 2017, 27 years following the shoes birth. Many re-iterations of the classical format were born, in accordance with the new aesthetic codes of the Maison, whom also made the style available to the menswear line, recalling the traditional Tabi’s unisex characteristic. Most recently the Tabi has been developed into various lasts, shapes and heels, in order to offer a modern and playful interpretation of the iconic design.