Tabi Boots Journey from Oriental Japan to Fashion in 2024 

Tabi boots

When I first tried Nike’s Tabi sneakers, my first thought was ‘My feet looked like hippogriff’s.’ 

I was perplexed and amazed at the design of these Tabi boots. But a small stroll in the store was enough to tell me these cuts at the toes aren’t a joke. 

Now five years down, these boots are my favourite and obvious picks for long days and hikes. I bought a pair for my mum who always had a problem with her giant toe not fitting into normal shoes. She was happiest.

Time to share the happiness and comfort of the Tabi boots with the readers.

Origin of Tabi Boots

These originate back to Japan when women walked in those dangerous high wooden slippers with red thong straps. Those were known as Okobo. The idea was inspired by the need to wear socks with them; hence, socks were knitted in a split for the thumb and remaining toes.

The founders of Bridgestone tires made the Jika-tabi, the tabi boots, in 1922. These boots were a staple around Japan and China for working-class people. You would find gardeners, laborers, rickshaw drivers, and load-lifters all in jika-tabi. 

Tabi boots

Made with a single leather hide, these boots provide a firm grip on the ground and flexibility around the toe area. That is why you will still see the traditional ninjutsu martial arts apprentice and masters preferring Jika-Tabi for agility and balance.

Jika-tabi nowadays comes with a steel toe for safety. Those Tabis were also seen in Big Hero Six, Black Panther, and Wolverine. 

Introduction to the Fashion World

The credit is due to Maison Margiela, who introduced Tabi boots with cylindric heels in the fashion show. A few years later, the style of shoes became the symbol of avant-garde style.

Nowadays, you would find celebrities like Dua Lipa, Kyle Jenner, Zendaya, and Cardi B enjoying Tabis in various forms.

Yes, the shoe is worn in many forms, such as tabi ballerina, tabi sneakers, tabi platforms, tabi combat boots, and whatnot. There is a huge variety in men’s tabi boots, and thanks to Maison Margiela, there are various designs for women’s tabi boots.

Importance of Tabi Split Toe Boots 

The boots offer support and agility in movement. If you have a routine for heavy work and require a lot of movement, these shoes offer great support and grip due to their unique design.

Often, companies make these boots with better soles to give a better hold for brisk walks. A racer once won a race wearing Tabi running shoes – you can now imagine the convenience. 

Types of Tabi Boots

Maison Margiela Tabi Boots 

Tabi boots

The designer once introduced the boots at a Paris fashion week in 1988. The shoe instantly grabbed the attention, but it didn’t pick off as the designer had anticipated. 

Year after year, Maison Margiela included these shoes in his fashion walks. Recently, the design has finally picked up thanks to influencer culture.

These influencers are seen coming out on the streets in New York and sunny Los Angeles, making their followers try these cleft-toe boots. 

This is probably the reason why these shoes are now famously known as Maison Margiela Tabi Boots.

Tabi Ballerina

Ballerinas have always struggled with toe injuries and restricted movement with ballerina pumps. Since Tabi ballerina boots give the thumb the liberty to separate from the toes, they provide much-needed support in movement in certain maneuvers.

Tabi Sneakers 

Most famous sneaker brands, such as Nike and Reebok, have the line and style of Tabi Sneakers. But Maison Margiela stands out with the variety and choice for tabi lovers. You can find many designs in flats, heel support, and running tabi shoes.

Tabi Boots Ninja 

The ninjas and jujitsu fighters are often seen wearing Tabi. The boots are the epitome of comfort and agility for the fighters. Uniquely, these boots don’t end below the ankle, but they are as high as high boots.

Tabi boots

They are known as Jikatabi, and you will find blue-collar workers often wearing them for comfort and ease. 

Occasional steel cover around the toe area makes a great choice for workers who are involved in rough work, and leather would cause injuries.

Parting Thoughts 

Fast forward to 2023, the Tabis are making a mark in the fashion industry. You can see Tabis in catalogs of many fashion lines and for a good reason. Tabis are one of the most comfortable shoe designs and work with most attires. 

An athleisure attire, with Tabi Converse, and a Rolex Oyster, you are good to go.

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Heidi Lane
Heidi Lane is the lead writer at Dwell HQ. She cannot help herself and continues enrolling in new courses. Being curious and unsatiated comes with its set of adavantages. Her recent obsession is SEO. Besides providing SEO services to businesses, writing, and her day job as an editor for online editorials, she loves to read in spare time. A nomad by heart, enjoying the digital nomad life in various countries. 12 destinations explored, more to go. A foodie at heart, now very hurt with recent life changes that comes with gluten allergy.