Split toe footwear often divides opinions, as well as toes. There’s something about such separation that provokes a visceral reaction in some. That, however, is part of the reason that split toe footwear has always been a dark horse in the world of fashion.

While split toe shoes have origins in countless ancient cultures across the globe, the tabi originally hails from 15th century Japan and first came to popularity as a type of sock meant to be worn with thonged footwear known as zori’s. Zori’s grew to widespread recognition during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and took the globe by storm in the 1950s and ’60s when Japan began exporting its prized slipper. While origins of the zori or flip flop can be dated back to ancient Egypt, we can most certainly thank Japan for the modernized version we’ve come to know today.

It's easy to overlook this at times, but our big toe plays an important role in our foot biomechanics since it handles much more pressure than our other toes. By separating it we’re able to unlock more stability as we push off surfaces when we walk. In other words, our ancestors had it right all along.

Although common for sandals, split toe trainers are usually on the fringe on the footwear universe, and we completely understand as it’s often uncommon to wear shoes with your big toe separated. But for that reason specifically, we’re paying some attention to the world of split-toe footwear. This sometimes weird but always wonderful trend is sure to garner some eyeballs while bringing a characterful update to your wardrobe. From Suicoke sandals to Margiela's iconic Tabi, we’ve covered all sides of the split toe spectrum so you can separate your big toe in style.

Browse the best of split-toe footwear below.

Suicoke

Suicoke Bita-V Sandals

Bita-V Sandals

Bita-V Sandals

$114

Suicoke

Buy at Slam Jam

Suicoke’s Bita-V Sandal’s were made with comfort in mind. Aside from having an all around smooth, muted brown colorway, these split toe sandals come with an antibacterial EVA footbed and Vibram Morflex Sole for added stability.

Suicoke POLK Split-Toe Sandals

POLK Split-Toe Sandals

$108

Suicoke

Buy at Farfetch

While foam slip-on are currently having a moment, rubber is always a good choice. Suicoke’s POLK Sandals has all the makings of exceptional sandals, but in split toe fashion.

Nike

Nike Air Rift Breathe

Air Aqua Rift

Air Aqua Rift

$96

Nike

Buy at StockX

The Air Rift first hit the scene back in ’96 and was initially geared towards runners. The chunky sole and lightweight upper fits like a glove.

Nike Air Rift Breathe

Air Rift Breathe

Air Rift Breathe

$87

Nike

Buy at StockX

All-white sneakers are great anytime of year, but these mesh Air Rift’s were made for Summer.

Nike Air Rift Breathe

Air Rift Breathe

Air Rift Breathe

$139

Nike

Buy at StockX

The Nike Air Rift still stands as one of the company’s most recognizable — and divisive — designs. Love it or hate it, this split-toe sandal/sneaker hybrid definitely makes a splash.

Nike Air Rift Black Forest

Air Rift Black Forest (2015)

Air Rift Black Forest (2015)

$200

Nike

Buy at StockX

This 2015 edition of the Nike Air Rift is resplendent in a colorway that we wish we saw more often. Black uppers play backdrop to a forest, atom red, and white color palette that grabs the attention even more than the split-toe construction.

Nike Air Rift Concord Goldenrod

Air Rift Concord Goldenrod (2015)

Air Rift Concord Goldenrod (2015)

$200

Nike

Buy at StockX

If you’re going to go loud, go really loud. The Nike Air Rift was never made to go unnoticed, so go all the way with this summer-infused colorway that masterfully combines concord blue and gold.

Nike Air Aqua Rift

Air Aqua Rift

Air Aqua Rift

$240

Nike

Buy at StockX

A calm pastel pink aesthetic transforms this attention-grabbing silhouette into something altogether new. Yes, it will attract eyes, but only with its quiet confidence.

Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela Tabi Leather Ankle Boots

Tabi Ankle Boots

Tabi Ankle Boots

$560

Maison Margiela

Buy at Farfetch

One of Margiela’s seminal pieces, the Tabi Ankle Boot will go down in the history of fashion. Smooth leather uppers sit atop an iconic round heel and are completed by — you know it already — a split toe.

Maison Margiela x Reebok Classic Leather Tabi Low

Classic Leather "memory of"

Classic Leather "memory of"

$200

Reebok x Maison Margiela

Buy at Highsnobiety

Low and behold, Margiela and Reebok's collaborative Classic Leather Tabi takes on a new look, redacted for the true split toe savants.

Maison Margiela Tabi Mary-Jane Shoes

Tabi Mary-Jane Shoes

$990

Maison Margiela

Buy at Farfetch

100% leather always looks good, but Margiela really put its foot into the overall design of these Mary-Janes.

Maison Margiela Tabi Derbys

Tabi Derbys

Tabi Derbys

$610

Maison Margiela

Buy at ssense

A good pair of Derbys will get you far, especially these split toes from Margiela.

Maison Margiela x Reebok Classic Leather Tabi Low

Classic Leather Tabi Low

Classic Leather Tabi Low

$260

Maison Margiela x Reebok

Buy at Highsnobiety

While folks are already with the now iconic Reebok and Margiela Classic Tabi's, the Bianchetto colorway gets overlooked. Margiela carefully removes a fraction of the leather upper, exposing the heel and side panels for a shoe that can be worn all year round, but truly stands out during the warmer months.

Socks

Komari Tabi Socks

Tabi Socks

Tabi Socks

$8

Komari

Buy at Komari

If you weren't convinced before, the playful, yet charming floral pattern on these tabi's should help your big toe get space it deserves.

Maison Margiela Tabi Socks

Tabi Socks

Tabi Socks

$45

Maison Margiela

Buy at Highsnobiety

Before you dive into the world of two toed shoes, you can experiment with Margiela's socks for a great entry point.

Maharishi 9349 Miltype Tabi Socks

9349 Miltype Tabi Socks

9349 Miltype Tabi Socks

$50

Maharishi

Buy at maharishi

For those unsure about physically splitting the toes, Maharishi makes it easy with this 3 pack of socks to get you started.

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