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What Is Minimal?
Minimal footwear is footwear that allows you to move as if you were barefoot, but with the protection of a shoe. We have a few qualifications that help us determine what is a minimal shoe, boot, or sandal.
Flat and Flexible Sole
Feel the Ground
Tabi and East Asian Inspired Footwear
We also carry a variety of East Asian inspired movement-friendly footwear such as Tai Chi slippers and Japanese Tabi socks and shoes.
Tabi is a Japanese style that is often described as split-toe: there is a separate area for the big toe, and the smaller four toes share the other area. You can think of them as the mittens of the sock world.
Originating in the 15th century as a sock, Tabi could be worn with thong-style sandals like Geta and Zori sandals. Traditionally they are made of non-stretch materials and fasten with metal tabs which tuck into threading up the ankle. They are often associated with ninjas, but their use was and is widespread.
As new materials like rubber became available, the “Outdoor Tabi” or Jikatabi boot with a rubber sole became popular, especially for labourers in Japan.
Now there are all kinds of Tabi: Jikatabi, traditional non-stretch Tabi socks, matt training Tabi for martial arts, Tabi nylon stockings, modern stretchy Tabi socks, Tabi sneakers, steel-toe Tabi boots, and more.
Tabi are popular with our customers for martial arts, Taiko drumming, Japanese festival attire, traditional Japanese dance and performance, fashion shows, film and television, and of course just for fun!
Some of our East Asian inspired footwear is not totally minimal, though we do try to find the most minimal options available, especially when that aligns with the origins of their designs.