You are here
Slip these on for instant street cred
I will go out on a limb and say that Sabahs are the chicest footwear you'll lay your eyes on. And also among the comfiest.
As exotic as their name sounds, these slip-on shoes are actually an American offering (via the East Village in New York, to be precise). They are, however, handmade in Gaziantep, Turkey, by a family of crafters who have been making the country's traditional slippers for hundreds of years.
The shoes themselves are reminiscent of the traditional Turkish slipper, and were the brainchild of the affable Mickey Ashmore.
Mr Ashmore, who's originally from Texas, began his love affair with the shoe when he worked in Microsoft's Istanbul office in the early years of this decade and was gifted a pair of the traditional footwear by his then-girlfriend's grandmother.
Upon returning to the United States (and working in a hedge fund), Mr Ashmore found that he wore the shoes constantly, even to formal occasions such as weddings. He ended up tracking down the Turkish shoemaker, and worked with him to update the shoe with a more contemporary profile; they took out the pronounced pointed toe, added a shorter back and a cleaner upper - and the Sabah (Turkish for "morning") was born.
Each shoe is handcrafted in the traditional fashion, without machinery or pre-punched holes; and each pair is marked with the handwritten initials of the Turkish cobbler who made them.
And Sabahs are made for men, women and children.
I love my Sabahs - I own two pairs. I saw the first pair on madewell.com (which no longer stocks them), googled more images of them and found myself really liking their vibe. When they proved to also be well made and extremely comfortable - and I'm someone whose feet blister in everything but sneakers - I decided to order another pair from Sabah directly.
If you're looking to get a pair of these, your starting point would be the Sabah Portal. It shows you all the colours, styles and materials - leather, suede and nubuck, or a mix of these - available. These tend to vary from season to season and depend on what the company has managed to source at that time. Each pair retails at US$190, while Sabahs for kids are US$65 a pair.
Depending on the availability of the material you've picked, the shoes take a few weeks to be cobbled.
Sabah ships their footwear all around the world, for a fee. Shoes can be returned or exchanged. If you're not sure how to pick your size, the portal has a sizing guide and set of FAQs.
Mr Ashmore recently added the Sabah Baba, which is a slide (ie backless) version of the slipper. He swears these are the perfect beach-holiday footwear, having worn them for a week while on holiday in Baja, Mexico. The Baba retails at US$150 a pair.
Owning a pair of Sabahs also entails another pleasure: you get treated to Mr Ashmore's perky, offbeat emails.
A recent one involved him telling the story of how a couple of friends spotted a pair of prototype leopard print slides in a corner of his shop. "They grabbed the pairs, slipped them on and within minutes - we were all dancing to 'September' by Earth, Wind and Fire."
During the US Presidential election, Mr Ashmore offered US$40 off any order for anyone who voted, regardless of who they voted for. "While we never find it polite to discuss politics at parties, we do feel strongly about exercising the right to vote."
Or you'll hear tales of how Sabah shoemaker Ali came to join the Sabah workshop a little over two years ago, after a bomb had destroyed the home where he and his wife lived in Aleppo, Syria. "Ali has sewn together the uppers of every single pair of Sabahs since. He has never missed a day of work."
Cult Status is a monthly column focused on the best products, services and experiences we come across