How to Turn Your Sneakers Into Tabi Shoes With Jonathan Lee
Any shoe can become a tabi — with the right tools.
Nowadays, there are ample takes on the tabi style at your disposal. The split-toe sock has been worn in Japan since the 15th century and was transformed into a workwear shoe in the early 20th century. But by the 21st century, the tabi has become a source of inspiration for all matters of fashion-forward footwear. Today brands like Nike, Suicoke and, perhaps most notably, Margiela, split everything from sneakers and sandals to heels and boots into the distinctive shape.
The tabi was first invented as split-toe style sock designed to be worn with traditional Japanese footwear like zōri and geta. It was reimagined as a standalone shoe 500 years later in the form of the jika-tabi, a rubber-soled sock-like shoe. Maison Margiela‘s 1988 debut fashion show introduced the tabi as a heeled boot, which has now become one of the house’s signatures and opened the door for newer styles like Nike’s recent ISPA Drifter.
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Lee’s tabi method is not for those whose shoes are for display only — making your kicks into tabi shoes will require tearing out some seams and melting down the glue before putting it all back together again. The result though is a custom pair of tabi shoes made to your liking, a style which you can apply to your Jordans and Timberlands alike.
Watch the video above to learn how to transform your sneakers into tabi shoes. And if you want the look but don’t trust your sewing skills, you can always cop a pair from this list of our favorite tabi shoes. And be sure to check out our other HYPEBEAST How-To videos, where you can learn how to perfect your latte art and how to vote.