Skip to main content

MSCHF Makers: Is Yeezy the ‘Satan Shoe’ Mastermind’s Next Muse?

After nearly a yearlong break, the button-pushing art collective MSCHF finally returned to footwear last month.

The Tap3 sneaker, a “winking riff on the image of an Air Force 1” that applied tape wherever Nike branding might typically appear, not only marked the firm’s first footwear release since its controversial Satan Shoes prompted a Nike lawsuit, but also the beginning of a whole new side venture for the Brooklyn-based brand: MSCHF Sneakers.

The site operates separate from MSCHF’s main bi-weekly release schedule. It plans to drop new shoes roughly once a month, but is also leaving the door open to more variability. “Unlike MSCHF drops, we might skip a month or do multiple shoes in a month,” it said.

MSCHF Sneakers’ second drop—or fourth if you follow the site’s internal logic that the Jesus Shoes and Satan Shoes MSCHF released in 2019 and 2021 were the sub-brand’s first two releases—arrived earlier this month, exactly four weeks after the Tap3.

Dubbed the Wavy Baby, the eye-catching shoe resembled a funhouse-mirror take on Vans’ classic Old Skool sneaker. Days before the sneaker officially dropped, Vans sued MSCHF for trademark infringement, alleging that that the brand’s latest shoe imitated every aspect of its Old Skool trade dress. MSCHF has defended the shoe, which is a collaboration with the rapper Tyga, as art.

MSCHF's Wavy Baby is the target of a trademark infringement lawsuit from Vans, which claims the shoes resemble its own Old Skool sneakers
MSCHF’s Wavy Baby is the target of a trademark infringement lawsuit from Vans, which claims the shoes resemble its own Old Skool sneakers. MSCHF

Given the brand’s varied approach to product creation—over the past year it has teamed with The Weeknd to release a playable saw blade vinyl record, hosted a so-called “Cease & Desist Grand Prix” where it sold shirts that purposefully infringed on brands’ logos and published two magazines—it’s anyone’s guess what MSCHF will release next. Despite MSCHF Sneakers’ official branding, the collective has said it will not limit itself to athletic footwear. “If it goes on a foot we will make it,” it said.

With that in mind, here are three ideas for what might buttons the tongue-in-cheek provocateur might look to press.

Related Stories

A collaboration with Pete Davidson

In terms of headlining-making potential, a collaboration with the “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson that plays into his feud with Kanye West—legally, Ye—by mocking the 22-time Grammy winner’s… distinctive footwear empire has to take the cake.

Of course, such a shoe would risk irrelevance by the time of its release. Ye’s mostly one-sided beef with Davidson, who began dating the Gap collaborator’s ex, Kim Kardashian West, in the fall, is no longer the above-the-fold news story it was last month.

According to Google Trends data, searches for Pete Davidson peaked this year from March 13-19, when Blue Origin announced it would and then would not take him to space. That same week, a friend of Davidson’s shared texts between the SNL star and Ye where the comedian declared he would not “let you treat us this way anymore and I’m done being quiet.” In recent weeks, search interest in Davidson has been less than a fifth of where it was in mid-March.

Should MSCHF decide to riff on Yeezy, it would likely risk ensnaring itself in yet another lawsuit. Last year, Ye sued Walmart for selling a “cheap knock-off” of his Yeezy Roam Runner clog. He accused the mega-retailer of unfair competition.

A ‘winking riff’ on Crocs clogs

As evidenced by this month’s Wavy Baby—and the corresponding Vans lawsuit—Nike is not the only company MSCHF is willing to push the limits of trademark infringement with.

Crocs would seem like a logical next target. The clog brand has flourished during the pandemic, with sales rising 13 percent in 2020 and 67 percent last year. Footwear News named it Brand of the Year in 2020 and its Classic Clog Shoe of the Year in 2021.

Given that Crocs has already teamed with Balenciaga to produce both platform and stiletto clogs, it’s not immediately apparent how MSCHF could hope to out-absurd the footwear company. More important, the clog maker has already demonstrated its willingness to protect its trademark. Last year, it sued multiple companies—including Walmart—for infringing on its trademarked designs.

Tommy Cash ‘loafers’

At a certain point, MSCHF will likely wish to take a break from risking lawsuits. If that day comes, a collaboration with the Estonian rapper Tommy Cash could produce some interesting results.

Cash is no stranger to footwear collaborations, having teamed with Adidas just last year. When promoting the release, the rapper shared promotional images of himself in a pair of absurdly long Superstar sneakers. Unfortunately for anyone who wanted a pair for themselves, the actual shoes customers received mimicked the mismatched coloring of the modeled sneakers, but not their length.

“WHEN I SAID TO ADIDAS THAT I WANT TO MAKE THE LONGEST SHOE IN THE WORLD AS OUR COLLAB THEY WERE LIKE WTF TOMMY. BUT 5 MONTHS LATER HERE WE ARE,” Cash wrote on Instagram at the time.

Given Cash’s avant-garde tendencies and MSCHF’s habit of collaborating with musicians, the two would seem like a natural fit. A January Instagram post that sees Cash seated on a coach made entirely out of bread—a “Loafa”—wearing what appears to be a loaf of bread on each foot offers one potential, non-infringing avenue for MSCHF Sneakers to explore. And if the brand really wants to invite a lawsuit, MSCHF can always try to sell the couch itself—Cash attached a fake Ikea tag—on its main site.