MSCHF, the Brooklyn-based subversive art collective that has graced the world with interpretive pieces of fashion-as-commentary, is touting a new drop on Feb. 16 it’s calling the Big Red Boot, composed of a TVA rubber shell and an EVA outer and mid-sole, priced at $350.
But unlike its past fashion adventures—the most famous being Satan Shoes, a collab with rapper Lil’ Nas X that caused Nike to take legal action—and most recently Made in Italy handbags that were, in fact, assembled in Italy… Texas, that is, there is no apparent message accompanying this piece; no obvious way in which the Big Red Boot is holding up a mirror to the often-absurd world of fashion.
In perhaps its shortest press release on record, MSCHF describes the boot as, “Cartoon boots for a Cool 3D World. Cartoonishness is an abstraction that frees us from the constraints of reality. If you kick someone in these boots they go BOING! You never design shoes to be shaped like feet. Big Red Boots are REALLY not shaped like feet, but they are EXTREMELY shaped like boots.”
MSCHF isn’t doing interviews ahead of the launch date, so consumers are left to speculate on the meaning behind this project.
Though some see the shoes giving “Mickey Mouse” vibes, others have pointed out that the boots are most reminiscent of Astro Boy, a Japanese cartoon character from the 1980s.
Yeah, but what does it mean? MSCHF doesn’t do homages.
Assuming MSCHF hasn’t lost its edge, one possible interpretation is that Big Red Boots is a commentary on the footwear world’s traditional disregard for comfort when it comes to women’s shoes.
The comment, “You never design shoes to be shaped like feet. Big Red Boots are REALLY not shaped like feet, but they are EXTREMELY shaped like boots,” speaks to a pain any woman has felt trying to squeeze into pointed toe high heels can relate to. The release includes a quote from Dora the Explorer that might buttress this theory: “Good thinking Boots!”
Boots is the energetic monkey friend of Dora Marquez, the 7-year-old Latina star of the long-running cartoon “Dora the Explorer”. Dora, herself, is usually seen wearing comfortable Velcro sneakers.
Perhaps the most likely meaning is that the Big Red Boot is a commentary on the budding world of Web3 fashion, and the idea of dressing one’s avatar in designer clothing, and paying designer prices for it.
Asked by Sourcing Journal whether Big Red Boots were a commentary on metaverse fashion, a spokesperson for MSCHF replied, “no, they are not.”
Big Red Boots quite literally and obviously draw a line between cartoons and video games at a time when fashion is figuring out an ecosystem—that is, the metaverse—in which digital characters suddenly require digital clothing at all-too-real prices.
Fashion has long elevated form over function and now major luxury houses are designing clothes that exist only in the metaverse, a place where, at least in these early days of its development, characters are often childlike and Lego-like in their blockishness—not at all unlike Dora the Explorer and Astro Boy.
However, the Big Red Boots are far from the only curious entry in the annals of footwear history. Ye himself, when he was still going by Kanye West, came out with odd-looking khaki boots that Justin Bieber sported with great notoriety. And Adidas worked with Estonian rapper Tommy Cash to make the “longest shoe in the world,” though the one-of-one “art project” was never available for sale to the public.
Practicality seems to be an afterthought with stunt-driven shoe drops as evidenced by a TikTok video showing someone who seemingly got stuck when trying to remove himself from the Big Red Boots and required assistance from people nearby who were willing to lend a hand.
Any shortcomings on the practicality front haven’t stopped high-profile fans from copping a pair of MSCHF’s latest work. NBA star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander styled his with baggy jeans, a white T-shirt and leather-looking hooded jacket Tuesday evening before his Oklahoma City Thunder squad defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 133-130 on their home turf at L.A.’s Crypto.com arena, putting something of a damper on a night when LeBron James notched 38 points to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387-point all-time scoring record.
Meanwhile, perhaps the makers at MSCHF will have more to say about the intended meaning—or lack thereof—of Big Red Boots after the product launch on Feb. 16 at MSCHF.com and the MSCHF Sneakers app.