May 26, 2024

The Big Red Boots Phenomenon

MSCHF, which is Mischief without the vowels, is an art collective based out of New York City. The collective has a long-standing history of trolling consumer culture, specifically by selling consumer goods. Known for such releases as the shoe collaboration with Lil Nas X, and the Nike Satan Shoes. Which allegedly were made with real human blood. As well as Jimmy Fallon’s Gobstomper sneakers last summer, which were, “designed to be destroyed.”  A few months later, they put out a medical boot. Why? The project was described as an homage to the fact that “industries with little to no regard for aesthetics designing objects for utilitarian purposes churn out bangers like no one else.”

To add to their long line of consumer products for consumerism’s sake they have released items such as a MSCHF defibrillator “to fix your literal broken heart.” As well as a collection of AI-generated foot pics. With the tagline “this foot does not exist.” The collective has even gone so far as to have made Birkenstocks out of Birkin Bags, sold a box of cereal containing one big Fruit Loop, and created an ATM leaderboard that tracks and ranks the checking account balance of anyone who uses it. As of December 2022, Diplo was No. 1 with $3,004,913.06.

The Big Red Boots Are Unveiled

Big Red Boots
Image via MSCHF

On February 16th, the brand released its latest product. A shoe destined to go viral: MSCHF’s big red boots, aptly named the Big Red Boot. They are made of TPU rubber and an EVA mid-outsole and take design cues from a video game. A press release for the shoe read, “Cartoonishness is an abstraction that frees us from the constraints of reality,” the release continued, “If you kick someone in these boots, they go boing!” The artist collective known for its subversive creations, stated, “Big red boots are really not shaped like feet, but they are extremely shaped like boots.”

Each boot weighs about three and a half pounds bringing the total weight for the pair to a whopping seven pounds. Even more astounding than the weight of the boots, was the rollout of the shoes. Leading up to New York Fashion Week, they were spotted everywhere among a multitude of celebrities. From Instagram models and TikTok grandpas to the Barclays center during Coi Leray’s halftime show. Photos of artist Diplo emerged wearing the Big Red Boots at a Knicks game. They were even spotted on WWE’s Seth Rollins, as he kicked another wrestler in the face while wearing the Big Red Boots. Basketball player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wore them to the arena before a game and even Janelle Monae wore them to shoot hoops.

Celebrities Set The Trend

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Once NYFW began, the boots became the new “it” accessory. Not surprisingly of course. Brands typically give celebrities and models articles of specific clothing and/or accessories to wear, as a marketing technique. MSCHF was no different with their Big Red Boots. They were spotted by celebrities and street style stars all over Fashion Week. Street-style photographer Phil Oh captured them on various stars. American singer/songwriter Dorian Electra styled them with a graphic coat, and mini skirt to fully show the shoes and donned a matching beret. Model Sarah Snyder paired the boots with a glossy red skirt and white tights; TikTok star and model Wisdom Kaye decided to style them with athletic shorts. No matter how they were worn the statement boots were styled to be the focal point.

Though the boots are rather unusual and even more impractical to wear, it’s been quite interesting to see how quickly the world was taken by storm by them. Upon being released on the 16th of February, the Big Red Boots were sold out in minutes. Leading to the site crashing shortly thereafter. Upon selling out, they were then listed on resale sites ranging between $1,200 and $1,500. Almost quadruple the original selling price of $350. The debate on the shoes has been as interesting as the shoes themselves. Some say the brand, and specifically the boots, are a social experiment–slash–experiential art project. While many others still have said the real art is the whole spectacle of releasing such a shoe. The reaction to the boots, the reaction to that reaction, the realization that it’s not just about boots, and the simultaneous truth that they are, in fact, just boots.

What’s Next?

MSCHF as a collective seems to continuously roll out products that raise eyebrows. They have an interesting and complex understanding of how consumerism and over-saturation seemingly go hand in hand these days. This was made overtly apparent in the case of the Big Red Boots. While the MSCHF may appear cartoonish, the art collective is entirely serious about its release. In an interview with the New York Times, they rejected the idea that the boots were a joke. “It’s not a satire,” MSCHF said in a statement to The New York Times, after declining to be interviewed. “But what’s interesting is that we’re at a moment in time where it doesn’t have to be.”

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