Introduced in the Spring summer 1989 collection, the Tabi shoe possesses become the most iconic piece synonym of French luxury and haute couture brand Maison Margiela. His polarizing silhouette, a split-toe sock reminiscent of clogs, amassed a following “foal” ready to defend Tabis until his last breath.
the tabihowever, is not a figure invented by Martin Margiela himself but adopted traditional Japanese shoes of the same name. The Japanese tabi has a rich historical and cultural significance, originally the socks used to accommodate traditional strappy shoes. They later evolved into a boot shape to work both outdoors and indoors. Tabis should be worn with formal traditional spaces such as Noh theaters, Kabuki performances, traditional theatrical performances and tea ceremonies. Their colors and styles signify social status, profession and occasion, with white shoes limited to tea ceremonies and weddings.
In my mind, this begs the question: what exempts this piece from being called cultural appropriation given the responses to other brands passing off cultural pieces as their own invention?
Margiela attributes the shoe’s popularity to his career. “The Tabi boot is the most important imprint of my career. It’s recognizable, it still lasts after 25 years, and it’s never been copied. Margiela said in 2015. The irony of her last statement is unfortunate.
It is possible that the lack of criticism of Tabis comes from their high art status. This can escape criticism by the paradoxical way in which great art is perceived: Criticism can be renamed to the rudeness of one who is unable to appreciate true art, ignorant of the symbolism of a piece. However, praise is welcome!
Subsequently, the criticism is ignored by those who should hear it the most. Instead of a copied design, these shoes are edgy, deconstructive, symbolic of At Margiela’s “rebellious spirit.“Of course, someone like you wouldn’t understand.
the Tabis are an example of how optics reign supreme. What is more important than the art is the perception of the artist, the language in which he is described, the context in which he is seen and the audience of his fans. How notoriety and reputation are protected and more important than reality.
I can admit that my argument for the moral dullness of At Margiela’s pretend to tabisuch as the clear accreditation of Japanese culture in its website itself. But in this case, the tabi is an example of a larger phenomenon of the importance that the artist plays in the context in which we classify his work.
Yeah the tabi it’s cool, but Margiela House is probably cooler.
The camel had to be airlifted by crane – it was a camel tow.