The widespread derision sparked by the multi-toed Vibram FiveFinger running shoes (not to mention the cloud of taboo surrounding foot fetishes at large) suggests that within Western culture, there is a strange and persistent shame of feet. Defying conventional taste, Martin Margiela sent split-toed boots down the paint-doused runway in his 1988 debut collection. The following season, the runway was transformed by tracks of cleft footprints, metaphorically marking the strong impression these boots would make upon the future of the label. The longevity of his Tabi boot in an unforgiving market remains as puzzling as it is spectacular.

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