The "Controversial" Flat Shoes People in London and Paris Are Wearing Nonstop

For some, laying eyes on a pair of Maison Margiela Tabi shoes for the first time was the fashion equivalent to tasting your first olive; from that first bite you knew you were on a long and loving path together. For others, they discovered an immediate distaste that has kept them at the opposite end of the table (or department store) from the provocateur since they first met. Many who work in fashion have found themselves falling into a middle camp, having experienced their initial distrust quietly usurped by a growing fondness, which in some cases, has developed into outright devotion. 


(Image credit: @martynakarolak)

For those who have caught the Tabi bug, the symptoms are strong, and as most of us have heard by now, there's a Tabi swiper on the loose. This week in New York TikTok user Lex (@nextlevellexuss) took to the app to issue a public service announcement for bachelorettes in the city to "beware” a man named Joshua who she claimed had stolen her beloved pair of mary jane Tabis. As it does, TikTok delivered its comeuppance to the thief, who, as it transpired, had stolen the shoes whilst at Lex's house on a Tinder date to then gift to his girlfriend. For those concerned for the victim, worry not, her Tabis have now been returned.


(Image credit: @_marisamartins_)

As fashion obsessions go, resorting to theft is an unusually high (and criminal) level to reach in order to come out with the goods, but apparently, the love for Tabis is strong. Spotted across London, Paris and New York, the cities' bravest are wearing them on the regular. Whilst some editors can't think of a fate worse than strapping their feet into a pair, for others, owning these shoes is a fashion dream on a par with attending the Met Gala or launching their own capsule collection.

Amongst the Who What Wear UK team we have editors who fall into both categories, and below, they fight their respective corners for and against the divisive shoe.



(Image credit: @rebeccarhysevans)

"One thing that you should know about me is that I love an ugly shoe. Furry clogs, crocs and kitten heels will always have a place in my shoe cupboard. But there is no shoe more divisive and that ensures more second glances, than the Margiela Tabi. Some see them a cute pair of ballet flats or classic boots (the Tabi is also available in a boot style) that have been ruined by the toe split that—and let's call it what it is—resembles a camel toe. But to me, they're timeless, fashion-girl It shoes and they're supremely chic.

"There was a time we could also have applauded them for being the ultimate man-repeller, but in light of recent happenings in New York, sadly, it seems this fact no longer stands. Personally, I just can't help but love that they celebrate the absurdity of fashion—their questionable ugliness, impracticality and downright silliness means liking them and embracing the blisters between your toes makes you part of a sort of club. If you know, you know, and if you don't, well—you don't!"



(Image credit: @maxineeggenberger)

"There's something about the Tabi that I find unsettling. Looking at it, I immediately flash back to the time Orlando Bloom wore those mesh-toe shoes, and it gives me shudders. Although I do think plenty of influencers and fashion people style them in a very chic way—they are Margiela, after all—it's a shoe even this footwear-obsessed fashion editor just can't get behind. Mary janes without toe separators, however, get a big yes from me."

Love them or hate them, you can't help but notice them. If you're into them, shop fashion's most divisive shoes below.



Next Up: It's Official: These Are the Luxury Buys That Are Making a Splash in 2023

Natalie Munro
News Writer

Natalie Munro is Who What Wear UK’s news writer. Having worked in the fashion industry since her time at university—where she obtained a BA in Journalism from University of the Arts London, Natalie's experience spans journalistic and styling roles. In the early stages of her career Natalie predominately worked on editorial shoots for fashion publications such as British Vogue, Vogue Ukraine, AnOther Magazine and Elle UK, before moving into journalism roles.

On completion of her degree she interned in the editorial team at British Vogue and later went on to freelance for the publication. Here, she developed her interest in reporting on the latest fashion news and trends. Inspired by the dynamic nature of the industry, Natalie went on to write for other lifestyle and fashion brands and publications before taking on the role as News Writer for Who What Wear.

With an interest in uncovering the latest fashion trends, Natalie takes a leading role in identifying news for Who What Wear UK. Focusing on trends on and off the runway, as well as street style and celebrity fashion, Natalie reports on a daily basis, ensuring that she remains ahead of the trends. Natalie also creates content for Who What Wear’s social channels including TikTok and Instagram on a weekly basis.