For an entity that didn’t start out as a sneaker brand, MSCHF is sure good at making headlines about footwear. The art collective from Brooklyn, New York has churned out the most – dare we say – mischievous pairs, from those that allow wearers to walk on (holy) water, to sneakers that rep Satan.
And amidst all of the criticism, fanfare, and even lawsuits, MSCHF continues to expertly navigate the culture of performance art and just plain-old internet trolling. Here are the 6 most controversial MSCHF sneakers that caught our eyes – and that we wish we could secretly own.
6. Big Red Boots
People might diss Big Red Boot wearers as suckers for attention, but we honestly just want to wear them because they remind us of Astro Boy. Like many MSCHF creations, the pair didn’t have a hard time selling out after retailing for $350 (PHP 19k) and being spotted on the feet of celebrities like Diplo, Lil Wayne, and our very own Andrea Brillantes.
Anyone who’s had a serious foot injury or follows the NBA has an inkling of where the AC.1 takes inspiration from. This 2022 release resembles the medical boots prescribed for people with broken ankles or similar orthopedic injuries.
According to Highsnobiety, MSCHF co-founder Daniel Greenberg thought medical boots looked “incredible” the first time he saw someone wearing them. “Industries with little to no regard for aesthetics designing objects for utilitarian purposes churn out bangers like no one else,” he said. The model features a plastic cage, rubber sleeve to keep feet secure, and air pumps on the sides.
The AC.1 retailed for $450 (PHP 25k) and functions as a regular sneaker or a “high fashion boot”, as Greenberg puts it, although he doesn’t recommend using them for basketball.
MSCHF and its jabs at popular culture mean that it is a magnet for controversies and lawsuits from corporations (more on that later). It’s fitting then that the collective’s first original-ish product tries its darndest to avoid such by…covering everything up in tape.
The TAP3 is suspiciously reminiscent of the Air Force 1s, although the yellow and red tape covering the black sneaker hides any possible references. MSCHF apparently consulted their legal team to make sure it’s lawsuit-proof, but even at their most behaved, the brand can’t help but be cheeky. The TAP3 retailed at $220 (PHP 12k).
3. Wavy Baby
Now we’re in lawsuit territory. MSCHF teamed up with rapper Tyga to create a skater shoe called “Wavy Baby” in 2022. And while the $220 limited-edition pair sold out in an hour, Vans stepped in, claiming the design “blatantly” incorporated designs of the Vans SK8 line – to which MSCHF disagreed. The collective maintained that it’s an original design.
“The Wavy Baby is transformational above and beyond anything Vans would ever attempt,” said MSCHF in a statement, adding that Vans never had a release as hyped as theirs. Yikes. But a US Court would side with Vans in 2022, ordering that production ceases of the now-sold-out sneakers.
2. Jesus Shoes
Jesus is not the only one who could walk on water – sort of. MSCHF had the religious clutching their pearls with the release of the “Jesus Shoes” in 2019.
The modified – and unofficial – Nike Air Max design comes with 60cc of holy water sourced from the river Jordan, a Frankincense-scented insole (in reference to the three wise men that visited Jesus), and an embedded gold crucifix.
Inscriptions on the shoe include “INRI” which translates to “Jesus of Nazarene, King of the Jews” in Latin, and “MT 14;25”, which is the verse in the book of Matthew that tells of the time – you guessed it – Jesus walked on water.
Prices retailed at $1,425 (PHP 78k) and were resold as high as $3,000 (PHP 164k). Lord have mercy.
1. Satan Shoes
What’s more controversial than the Son of God? The Devil, apparently. In another religious outing that will have your tito/tita furiously typing away on Facebook, MSCHF collaborated with Lil Nas X for the “Satan Shoes.”
The Air Max design featured real blood in the air bubble, an engraved pentagram, and the inscription “Luke 10:18”, a bible verse that reads “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Unlike its holier counterpart, the “Satan Shoes” landed MSCHF in hot water when Nike sued over the unofficial design. Nike’s main argument is that people will surmise that the brand gave the green light to be associated with such a controversial concept. MSCHF offered refunds for users who bought all 666 pairs as part of a court settlement.