It’s the footwear news that never ends. Last week, Kanye West wore a slick mint green suit custom-made by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton to the wedding of 2 Chainz—and paired it with concrete-grey pool slides from his label Yeezy that looked like a miniature blow-up pool floats. The kicker? They appeared to be several sizes too small, so small that the whole ball of his foot hung off the edge.
West has since acknowledged that his shoes did not fit. Today, in response to the flurry of questions about them, West tweeted a diptych including a photograph of what appeared to be a modern version of the traditional Japanese shoe, the geta. (Typically, geta sandals have two raised “teeth” in the middle of the shoe.) It also showed an illustration of the foot of the wooden thong sandal with the description “Your heal [sic] sould [sic] extend 1-2cm off the back of the wooden sole.” I emailed Dana Buntrock, Department of Architecture Chair, Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley, for insight. “I'm actually not sure why the shoe is worn like that, but Mr. West is right to say it often is,” wrote Buntrock. “However, I have not seen the practice carry over to pool sandals.”
West’s explanation aside, questions have been swirling around the Internet about the tiny slides. Maybe they actually were his wife Kim Kardashian West’s. Kardashian did don the footwear a few weeks ago with her signature bike shorts and yes, with socks. Maybe, just maybe, they didn’t have enough samples in West’s size. And perhaps, after seeing those puffy aeronautic cushions of hype on his wife, the rapper liked them so much that he couldn’t wait to wear them out himself! To a paparazzi-flanked wedding, no less. If that was the reason—impatience—we can’t blame him. We’ve all been there. Vogue Runway Director Nicole Phelps shares a bunion-minded story. “I used to squeeze into an especially spindly pair of Christian Louboutin stiletto booties that my Style.com colleague, the living legend Candy Pratts Price, gave to me,” she writes. “Circa the late 2000s, I thought they were the height of chic, but they were a half size or maybe a whole size too small, and when I took them off at the end of the day my toes would be numb.”
Small shoes or not, could this all be just a genius marketing ploy on West’s part? After all, the internet has been buzzing with memes and fired-up comments wondering whether West dug into North West’s shoe rack. Either way: A small shoe with a big impact is not the healthiest choice. Dr. Rock Positano, the Director of the Non-surgical Foot Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan—the same doctor who had a lot to say about the troubles of Kardashian’s favorite plastic boots a few months back—says that the practice of wearing bite-size footwear is also dangerous. “Wearing shoes that are too small pose many dangers to the wearer,” he wrote in an email. “For instance, this may cause a postural imbalance which can lead to unsteady walking resulting in falls and other underfoot accidents. In addition, the important biomechanical relationship between the front (big toe) and the back (heel, ankle, Achilles) of the foot is altered, thus resulting in overuse injuries involving tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones. Sometimes wearing a cool looking shoe can put you in hot water.”
So, are West’s tiny slides cool? Sure. Unhealthy? Probably. Does his Japanese sandal argument even hold court in the debate about shrunken footwear’s safety? No. Either way, I have to ask: When are these shoes dropping? Are there different colors? Size aside, those cushy things do look kind of comfortable. It appears as if Kanye is yet again on the heels of something.
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