Is This The Shoe Of 2019?

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Is This The Shoe Of 2019?

Words by Ms Molly Isabella Smith

28 January 2019

Dip your toes into Maison Margiela’s statement footwear.

We usually reserve this slot bright and early on a Monday morning to present you with our pick of all the shiny new things that have just landed on site. And while that’s technically true today, the item in question can’t precisely be described as brand spanking new. In fact, it’s more than three decades old: Maison Margiela debuted its cult split-toe Tabi shoes – based on the traditional bisected Japanese socks of the same name – as part of its first-ever womenswear show in 1988, a moment that is now established fashion lore.

Why, you may ask, is a cloven-toed shoe that’s been knocking around for 30 years worthy of your attention? For starters, the style has recently become part of the menswear conversation. They’ve only been available in men’s sizes for the last few seasons or so. Quick off the mark was BTS’s Jin, who wore a metallic pair in the promotional art for the band’s _Love Yourself: Answer _album. Then, just a few weeks ago, Australian actor Mr Cody Fern christened the red carpet at the Golden Globes in a heeled version. MR PORTER’s selection is a more considered interpretation of the style – the flat, collapsible loafers available in brown and black are subtler, but still a standout and altogether smarter alternative to sneakers.

We’ll concede that cleft-toed shoes are likely to generate controversy. Then again, Maison Margiela hasn’t exactly made a name for itself catering to the masses: the collective’s design philosophy is lauded for its visionary and unorthodox aesthetic. It’s supposed to subvert your expectations and set tongues wagging. Which is why the men’s Tabi couldn’t have come at a better time: never has our sartorial topography looked so wild and untamed. The unwavering influence of Maison Margiela alum Mr Demna Gvasalia and the androgynous stylings of rising stars like Mr Ezra Miller proves avant-garde populism is commanding menswear’s mainstream at the moment. For further evidence see the ugly sneaker: a shoe that earned itself a horde of detractors initially, but has since dictated the prevailing order of things, steering designers towards a wholesale embrace of the technical trend. And that worked out pretty well, right? The Tabi’s trajectory seems similarly set, albeit it’ll lead menswear down a weirder and, yes in our opinion, more wonderful path. Watch this space.

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