A few months ago, Korean musician Zion.T published a post on Instagram, a photo showing ten pairs of boots. They have the same design, but with slightly different colors and materials. The boots in the photo are Maison Margiela Tabi split-toe shoes.
The prototype of Tabi split-toe shoes is a traditional Japanese foot bag. This unique design has appeared as early as the 15th century. It was first worn with cotton socks worn with traditional clogs, and Martin Margiela is the biggest brand that made it accepted and liked by the public. Hero. Since its debut on the Maison Margiela fashion show in 1989, the shoe has been launched in new versions almost every season, and has gradually evolved into one of the brand’s most recognizable “ace items.”
About a year and a half ago, Zion.T tried Margiela’s Tabi split-toe shoes for the first time on the recommendation of stylist Sky Kwak, and decided that they were “shoes that I will never get tired of in my life.” After that, he started collecting them out of control, selecting the rarest and special styles just like picking flowers from nature. For him, although the heel of this boot model is 6 cm high, its comfortable feel is very suitable for daily wear.
In order to further understand Zion.T’s love for Tabi split-toe shoes, in this issue of “Sole Mates” we went to his studio to talk about why he is so fond of this design, where he usually shops, and what he likes about Martin Margiela’s take on the shoe, its relationship to music, and more.
Hypebeast: Long time no see, let’s talk about your recent developments.
Zion.T：This year I participated in Jay Park’s recently released song “Candy”, and I am also working hard on the heart label Standard Friends that I founded last year. In addition, I am still devoted to music creation as always, and I want to release a full album or EP this year. As a musician, recently I want to leave all my thoughts and energy to music.
“Tabi’s designs haven’t changed much since they first shocked the world. I think they are very sophisticated compared to current trends, but at the same time have a classic charm.”
You posted a photo of Margiela Tabi split-toe boots on your Instagram account earlier. When did you start collecting them?
I started collecting them about a year and a half ago, but I always wear the shoes I buy. I’ve always loved boots, and I particularly like the Tabi’s split-toe design. Tabi’s design hasn’t changed much since it shocked the world with its debut. I think they are very sophisticated compared to current trends but at the same time have a classic appeal. It is undeniable that the power of the Maison Margiela brand is endless, but Tabi’s design is still so special.
An interesting fact is that Tabi and you are “the same age” and were both born in 1989. How did you discover these boots?
In a way we are “peers” (laughs). Tabi was first introduced to me by stylist Sky Kwak, who completed today’s shoot with us. He has always been a big fan of Margiela and I am inspired by him. At that time, I was thinking about a pair of shoes that I could wear for a lifetime and never get tired of them. After coming into contact with Tabi, I thought, “This is it.”
What makes you wear and collect Tabi so often?
I don’t usually have a lot of attachment to specific pieces, but through collecting these Tabi, I’ve come to understand my desire to own things. At first I thought, “Would it be difficult to wear them every day?” They look uncomfortable. Still, I liked them so much that I started trying to break them in, hoping they would adjust to my feet. But when I actually tried them on I found that they were actually very comfortable to wear, even for a long enough time.
Where do you usually wear these boots?
Instead of taking them out when I go to a specific place or event, I leave them in my home, office, studio, literally everywhere in my life, sometimes even when I When I go to these places wearing sneakers, I also put on Tabi in the middle. Because there is a very special feeling after wearing Tabi: they wrap around my toes and instep, although they restrict my foot movement, they feel good.
Do you still remember what style your first pair of Tabi was?
I remember the first thing I bought was a pair of all-black Tabi, and then I quickly bought a pair of white versions. I prefer antique shoes with a sense of age to new ones, so it’s not easy to find a pair of shoes I want right away. There are subtle differences in the details of shoes from different years, so when I see shoes that I like, I buy them without hesitation.
“When I see a pair of Tabi, the first thing that comes to mind is the image of an urban woman, and a person with distinct tastes.”
So where do you usually buy these shoes?
I usually go overseas to find special vintage shoes. There are many vintage items that are just as attractive as new, and sometimes I even come across styles that show very little signs of use and are extremely well preserved. Of course, when I meet sellers with multiple pairs of Tabi, I usually haggle with them. (laugh)
In your opinion, what kind of person is suitable for these boots?
When I see a pair of Tabi, the first thing that comes to mind is the image of an urban woman, and a person with distinct tastes. I think these boots are more suitable for people who are on the thin side, which is also my favorite style. In addition to dressing up, they are also suitable for casual looks such as hoodies. Personally, I would find it more flattering paired with looser fitting clothing.
Apart from Tabi, what are your thoughts on the legendary designer Maison Margiela?
Martin Margiela is a very cool designer and a true artist. Not only the clothes he designed and produced, but also the jewelry and other accessories were unique. He sublimated his own view of the world into subsequent designs. Even 15 years after his retirement, his works are still valuable enough that people continue to collect them. That’s why my perspective and love for fashion is so special.
If you were asked to write a song about Tabi, what would it be like?
I thought we could create a song that captured the sound of the classical instruments well but also had a stylish edge to it. Because of this, I wanted to play it with organ and guitar, and make the vocals the chorus rather than the center of the song, making it more of an instrumental piece, while using an irregular arrangement, and ending up with a length of about 8 minutes or so.
Is there any song in your mind that already fits the vibe of this pair of shoes?
I think it will be the background sound created by French sound artist Frédéric Sanchez for Maison Martin Margiela’s 1989 spring and summer show. The song, which can be heard on Sound Cloud, appeared at Maison Margiela’s first big show and marked Tabi’s debut. It is said that Sanchez and Margiela have worked together on every show since their first show, and now they are both legends in the fashion industry.
What does Tabi mean to you?
They are simply my favorite shoe, on so many levels. I didn’t realize this when I only had one pair, until I started collecting them, and I found that although each pair of Tabi has a similar appearance, there are big differences in material, color, texture and feel, just like We all, like ourselves, live in different emotions every day, which is really special to me.