Tabi Swiper: How a woman’s Tinder date committed the most ‘sinister’ of fashion crimes

If dating in New York City wasn’t hard enough, one woman has shared how an unassuming Tinder date stole her beloved Maison Margiela Tabi shoes, which retail for almost $1,000, to give to his girlfriend.

It all began on TikTok this week, when user Lex (@nextlevellexuss) posted a public service announcement for New York City singles to “beware” a man named Joshua - who she claimed stole her prize Tabi Mary Janes from the French fashion label.

“Ladies of NYC, be-f***ing-ware. This man is out here on Tinder and Hinge and he will steal from you,” she began her viral TikTok video, which has since been viewed more than 862k times.

“This is a story about how that f***er stole my Mary Jane Tabis that my father bought for me as a birthday gift,” Lex said. She then shared a screenshot of her Tinder match, a man named Joshua, who she claimed was the culprit behind her missing shoes.

The New York City-based fashion designer explained how she was walking around Manhattan’s Soho neighbourhood when she “locked eyes” with a “really cute guy” on the street. She later received a message on Tinder from the same man, who messaged her: “Hey, did I see you downtown?”

“I didn’t know we matched on Tinder before, but I guess we did. We start chatting and we ended up going out for drinks,” Lex said. At first, she said that Joshua seemed like “a nice guy” and they decided to go on a second date. “Fast forward, we hang out again, he comes over and we sleep together.”

During their rendezvous, they sparked up a conversation about fashion and Joshua revealed that he really wants to own a pair of “Tabi” boots from Maison Margiela - the high fashion brand’s infamous split-toe shoe, which comes in many different styles, including ballet flats, loafers, Mary Janes, and boots.

The next morning, he asked to show Lex a Spotify playlist on her phone. “I open my phone and everything for him, I give him the app to Spotify, he looks it up,” she said in the video. He gave the phone back to Lex and said that he couldn’t find the playlist, before promptly leaving.

“Hours pass, I’m on my computer, I look over to my shoe rack over here,” Lex continued, pointing to the black pair of Tabi boots sitting at the top of her shelf. “I have Tabi boots up there. We were talking about the Tabi boots and he was referencing those. He barely glanced at the Mary Janes, OK? I look over there, and they’re gone.”

Lex searched high and low for her Tabi shoes but couldn’t find them anywhere, so she decided to text Joshua and ask if he knew where she placed her Mary Janes. “I’m not going to be accusatory, I’m just gonna see if he knows where I put them,” she explained. But when she opened the dating app to message him, she discovered that Joshua had “unmatched” her on Tinder.

“I’m like, ‘Oh no. This b**** stole my f***ing shoes,’” she proclaimed.

The two previously chatted over the phone, so she decided to search her call log for Joshua’s number. As it turned out, he had erased his number from Lex’s phone when he asked to show her a Spotify playlist. “I go to the call log and he literally deleted the history of the call, so I can’t find his number,” she said.

It seemed like all hope was lost, so Lex asked her local TikTok followers to send her any information they have about Joshua, adding: “I want my f***ing shoes back!” It didn’t take long for the fashion designer’s video to go viral on the platform, and as a result, fellow New York City TikTok users told Lex where she could find the alleged shoe stealer on Instagram.

“You guys boosted this s*** so well and got it to the right audiences, I love you guys,” she said in a follow-up video. “Someone reached out to me, knew who he was, gave me his Instagram… I’m just trying to be as tactful as possible when it comes to this, so hopefully we get the shoes back, guys.”

However, the “Tabi Swiper” saga continued when Lex revealed that not only did Joshua allegedly steal her shoes, but he gave them to his girlfriend. “Update, I got my Tabis back,” she shared in a third video, before revealing to her followers exactly how she retrieved her favourite shoes.

Lex explained that she received a call from the Tinder date, who started to “gaslight” her over the phone and claimed that “he didn’t steal” her Tabi Mary Janes. But when he started offering her money for the shoes, anywhere from $500 to $1,000, Lex said she knew he was “lying” because an “innocent person wouldn’t give $1,000” if they didn’t steal the shoes.

“The plot thickens,” she continued. “I found out he has a girlfriend and that he gave my Tabis to his girlfriend.”

After Lex sent Joshua a screenshot of his girlfriend wearing her Tabi shoes, he finally texted her at three in the morning, saying: “Ight [sic] you got me, I’ll get them back to you give me a time and place and I’m just asking to remove the TikTok is all.”

“All I ask is you remove the video once you get your stuff back,” he wrote in a separate text. “I thought I could get away with it but you caught me.”

They eventually arranged a meeting and Lex included footage of the Tabi drop-off in her video, which showed Joshua pulling up on a bicycle with the Maison Margiela shoes in a cross-body bag. “He was literally smiling the whole f***ing time,” she revealed.

While her shoes were now safe and sound, Lex still wondered how her Tinder date was able to swipe the Tabi shoes in the first place. She theorised in a separate video that he tucked the Mary Janes in his pants waistband, since he was wearing baggy cargo trousers.

In just a matter of days, the case of the missing Tabis has received over a million views on TikTok. Unsurprisingly, the shocking saga led many fashion lovers to sound off on the incident in the comments section - as the culprit was quickly dubbed the “Tabi Swiper” on the app.

“Fashion guys are sinister,” one top comment read.

“That’s diabolical,” another person wrote.

“Whew this was a journey! Glad you got your Tabis back,” said someone else.

Meanwhile, others were more interested in what the swiper’s supposed girlfriend thought of the stolen Tabi shoes that he had given her.

“I need the girlfriend to come forward with her side of the story. This is so crazy,” one person commented.

“I want to hear from the girlfriend,” said another.

A third wrote: “Wait, we need the update on the girlfriend… Does she know?!”

After her Maison Margiela shoes were returned, Lex took the opportunity to thank both strangers and her followers for the “overwhelming amount of support” she’s received as a result of the so-called Tabi Swiper.

In her video, she also revealed that Joshua and his girlfriend were no longer dating. “They are no longer together from my knowledge, she didn’t know - he’s a menace, y’all,” Lex said. “He cheated on her, so I would appreciate it if you guys try to give her a little bit of respect and space in this. This is not her fault.”

The fashion designer also took the moment to address the “slut-shaming” she’s received since the Tabi Swiper saga.

“To punish my behaviour and say, ‘Oh, what do you expect when you just open your legs?’ and things like that, instead of being like, ‘That’s crazy that there are not decent human beings out there who just won’t steal from you,’” Lex said. “To focus on that, and not what he did, shows how there are layers of misogyny to this whole entire situation.”

She concluded her final video about the Tabi Swiper with: “I’m just simply a girl who wanted her shoes back.”