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MSCHF Returns to Riffing on Nike as Vans Legal Fight Runs On

Currently fighting accusations of infringement from Vans, MSCHF will once again poke the bear that is its former legal rival Nike.

On June 23, the art collective’s footwear-dedicated offshoot, MSCHF Sneakers, will release the Super Normal, a “coke white” shoe that resembles a Salvador Dali-esque interpretation of Nike’s Air Force 1.

Similar to how April’s Wavy Baby shoeMSCHF Sneakers’ second entry—warped Vans’ Old Skool sneaker, the Super Normal transforms the signature elements of Nike’s Air Force 1, with the shape of its iconic side panels completely distorted and the stitching haphazard. The perforated front is likewise rendered into a nearly unrecognizable amorphous blob. The vertical ridge pattern on the sides of the soles, one of several named elements on Nike’s Air Force 1 trademark, appears largely unchanged. The sneaker features multiple instances of MSCHF branding: its “!!!” mark on the heel tab and its name printed on the tongue, a tubular lace jewel and the side of the sole.

MSCHF similarly took inspiration from Nike’s Air Force 1 for its first MSCHF Sneakers release, the Tap3. The shoe, which did not prompt a legal challenge from Nike, followed the AF1 design much more loyally. Wherever the sneaker giant’s logo might appear, however, MSCHF placed “overmolded” TPU tape. The label referred to the shoe as “a winking riff on the image of an Air Force 1.” Both the Tap3 and Super Normal feature an identical warped-ripple design on the outsole—the former in black, the latter in white.

MSCHF will sell the Super Normal for $145, roughly one-third less than the $220 it charged for the Tap3 in March and the Wavy Baby in April.

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MSCHF Sneakers' Super Normal will drop June 23
MSCHF Sneakers’ Super Normal will drop June 23. MSCHF

“There is only the intensification of the present; there is only the intesification [sic] of the normal,” MSCHF wrote on the shoe’s product page. “Super Normal is the new uniform.”

MSCHF’s promotional campaign stars two musicians, S’natra and Aurora Anthony, the latter of whom has 104,000 followers on Instagram. Two New York City restaurants feature heavily in these photographs as well, including Lucien, a French bistro that last month collaborated with the fashion brand Burberry. The other eatery, the 84-year-old Chinese restaurant Wo Hop 17, was one of six establishments to win the James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award earlier this year.

The musician Aurora Anthony stars in MSCHF's Super Normal campaign
The musician Aurora Anthony stars in MSCHF’s Super Normal campaign. MSCHF

In March, MSCHF launched what it called MSCHF Sneakers, a side endeavor dedicated to all footwear—“if it goes on a foot we will make it,” it said—that would exist outside of its main every-other-week release schedule. Though the company said a new footwear release of “a few thousand to several thousand” pairs would arrive roughly once per month, it cautioned that this rate might vary. The Super Normal will debut more than two months after April’s Wavy Baby.T

That sneaker, a collaboration with the rapper Tyga, prompted a legal challenge from Vans before it even officially launched. The litigation—which has dragged on far longer than MSCHF’s two-week battle with Nike—is still ongoing, with the two companies now trading arguments on multiple legal fronts, including the validity of a preliminary injunction and whether or not MSCHF violated that injunction.