February 25, 2024

The viral Big Red Boot gets even weirder

The Big Red Boots that clomped their way into the fashion scene in February on the feet of seemingly endless celebrities and influencers — befuddling and amusing everyone else — now have a holey, caution tape-colored cousin.

Prospective buyers entered a raffle on Wednesday and Thursday for a chance to snag the new Big Red Boot (Yellow) from Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF and Crocs for $450. (The MSCHF collective declined to say how many pairs were up for grabs or how many people entered the lottery.)

The comically large creations look straight out of a cartoon. And with craters too big for Crocs’ jibbitz customizations, they don’t make practical rain boots. But they also don’t stray too far from their ubiquitous Crocs counterparts, which saw a surge in sales during the pandemic.

According to the MSCHF website, the shoes are made of the same lightweight material — ethylene-vinyl acetate — used to make standard Crocs and a “dual-position heel strap,” which can be attached and detached to “flip it from Sport Mode to Dad Mode,” MSCHF said in a statement.

MSCHF first unveiled the yellow shoes in a June 22 Instagram post featuring Estonian rapper Tommy Cash dressed as a mime. In July, Paris Hilton modeled them in a matching yellow bodysuit with the word “sliving,” a portmanteau of “slaying” and “living” that Hilton said she coined in 2019.

Victoria Beckham and Rubi Rose posed in their yellow Crocs boots for social media. Their Instagram followers expressed a mix of repulsion and fascination in the comments.

“We look for collaborations that unlock things we would be unable to do ourselves. Given the nature of MSCHF, these are relatively rare,” the design collective said in a statement. “With Crocs, the jumping-off point for our collaboration was being granted the ability to use the core signifiers of ‘Croc’ — the hole pattern and strap — as a building block.”

Despite their impracticality, the Swiss cheese-like shoes’ predecessors — the Big Red Boots — rose to fame on the heels of celebrities and other fashion-forward figures. Lil Wayne donned the shoes at New York Fashion Week, and WWE wrestler Seth Rollins stomped his way into a match with the boots on. Coi Leray performed in them at the halftime show for a Brooklyn Nets game, and Iggy Azalea wore the shoes while posing at the entrance of a private jet.

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Even before they were released to the public, they quickly became the subject of internet memes and fan art. As the shoes became increasingly unavoidable, online curiosity — and the shoes’ visible flaws — grew.

Multiple videos showed people who had stepped into the shoes enlisting a helper or two to pry the rubbery red boots off their feet. Wisdom Kaye had to slice long slits in the back of his pair after trying them on for the first time.

“You’re not going to see me struggle to put these on and take them off because I already did that last night and my foot got stuck,” the model and internet personality said in his Feb. 10 TikTok video before revealing the backside of the shoes. “I had to do what I had to do.”

Still, some consumers longed to experience the shoes for themselves. By the time MSCHF opened the $350 boots to the public in February, the hype had grown so grotesque that the first batch sold out in minutes.

MSCHF designers aren’t new to their reputation as mavens of mayhem. They charged consumers $76,000 a pair last year for the “Birkinstock,” Birkenstock sandals made from deconstructed Hermès Birkin bags. Months later, they dropped shoes that looked like orthopedic boots. Before Crocs, one of the group’s most recent brand partnerships was with Tiffany & Co., selling 100 participation trophies for $1,000 each.

In some cases, MSCHF’s creators went through hell to sell their kicks. Nike sued the company in 2021 for its Satan Shoes, which were Nike Air Max 97s containing a drop of human blood, made in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X. Last year, Vans pursued legal action against the brand for partnering with rapper Tyga to make Wavy Baby sneakers, black and white wave-shaped shoes that resembled Vans’ signature style.

Despite the controversy, MSCHF seems undeterred from its eyebrow-raising product releases.

The Big Yellow Boots are no different, as the art collective experiments with a shoe it says has no deeper meaning. Instead, the designers continue to tease the line between reality and fiction: “Arguably Crocs, prior to the BRB, would have been the footwear that most clearly existed as more cartoon than real.”

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