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Sleaze is not dead. It came roaring into the cultural consciousness last summer, and it’s still going strong. It is evolving, but it remains polarizing. Some might even argue that it is simply bad. I would disagree with them because, again, it is polarizing. Sleaze is a look, but it is also an ethos. It is ridiculousness for ridiculousness’s sake, but it is also a knowing wink to other adherents that you get it, and you know exactly what you’re doing.
I tell you all this because I have found a pair of blue leopard-print slip-on shoes made from hair-on leather. They are by the brand Sabah, and they are out there. They are, for some—okay, for many—entirely too much. And I love them. This is why.
You can’t fake it in these shoes.
A pair of blue, leopard-print, cow-hair slip-ons demand something of you. They demand that you wear them with confidence and intention. You can’t step out of the house with something this loud on your feet and expect people not to notice. Their entire existence is predicated on getting attention. It’s the whole damn point! And that means when I wear them this summer, I’m going to get looks. Some will come in the form of a side-eye. Others will be knowing winks (at least I hope they’ll be). But with a pair of shoes like this, it’s about reveling in their extreme nature. It’s about having fun and not apologizing for it.
They’ve got a real story behind them.
Sabah isn’t an age-old brand, but the techniques and traditions it references have some serious historical bonafides. The company was founded in 2013 by a guy named Mickey Ashmore, who lived in Turkey for a spell while working for Microsoft. He’d been given a pair of traditional Turkish slippers by the grandmother of his girlfriend at the time and started wearing them everywhere.
As it does in this sort of story, that lead to the founding of a company. Ashmore’s pair started falling apart, so he found a man named Orhan working in Gaziantep, a town along the southern Turkish border. Orhan’s family had been making shoes in the same style since the 1800s and obliged Ashmore with a new pair—less curly-toed, with better leather and rubber soles—that became the prototype for Sabahs. Six years later, the brand is still making shoes in Gaziantep, albeit with a few extra folks to help Orhan and his wife out.
They’re built beyond trends.
Sleaze may, one day, pass from this earth. The idea of truly going for it with a pair of blue leopard shoes may seem even crazier in the future than it does now. That’s nothing to cry about! Part of embracing style means embracing both the ephemeral and the permanent and mixing those two in a way that feels exciting. These Sabahs are built for that interplay. Though this particular style is of-the-moment, the way it’s made—by hand, using high-end materials and a replaceable sole—means it’s designed to last and even get better with age.
So even if something bold and bright isn’t your cup of tea, maybe you’ll find yourself drawn to a pair of the brand’s more understated offerings. Give ’em a shot! Then, once you feel the quality for yourself, go back and get the blue leopard. Summer’s here and it’s time to get a little wild.