It’s been ten days since the viral MSCHF Big Red Boots bonked their way into our collective cultural consciousness, and yet it feels as if they’ve been around forever. Were we ever so young that, nearly a fortnight ago, none of us knew about the viral MSCHF Big Red Boots? I can’t comprehend it. Maybe you can’t, either.
In the span of those ten days, the boots boinged their way into myriad headlines, through the hype-trodden scene of New York Fashion Week, and onto the famous feet of Lil Wayne, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Diplo, Coi Leray, Iggy Azalea, Fivio Foreign, Pardison Fontaine, Rich the Kid, the WWE’s Seth Rollins, Hot Ones host Sean Evans, as well as an indeterminate number of Instagram and TikTok influencers.
And at last, today, on the morning of their virtual tenth day of existence, the boots went on sale for $350 a pair on MSCHF’s website, where they sold out within minutes.
If you have not yet been Red-pilled on the Big Boots, a brief synopsis: the boots are a pair of honking-red, knee-high shoes that look as though the metaverse sculpted them out of polymer clay, but are actually made, as Complex so succinctly put it, out of “thermoplastic polyurethane (plasticky rubber) and ethylene vinyl acetate (rubbery plastic).” They are an approximation of the red boots worn by Astro Boy, the humanoid-child-superhero protagonist of the Japanese manga series that was first published in the 1950s, although everything about these boots suggests that they could not have possibly existed before the year 2023. They were created by the New York-based streetwear brand-art collective MSCHF (pronounced “mischief”)—the same group behind the unauthorized Air Max spoofs known as the “Satan Shoes,” whose pseudo-litigious, human-blood-filled soles helped propel an entire Lil Nas X album cycle.
“Big Red Boots are REALLY not shaped like feet, but they are EXTREMELY shaped like boots,” read the initial MSCHF press release. “If you kick someone in these boots they go BOING!”
Earlier this month, the brand launched the shoe with a cheeky campaign starring the Instagram model Sarah Snyder, who appeared like a humanoid cartoon character walking around the streets of New York City in her Big Red Boots. The next day, while those images had begun to floor social media, Gilgeous-Alexander (the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard who was recently crowned as GQ’s most stylish man of 2022) wore them as he headed into a game; the day after that, a video filmed by a stylist named Michael Pico, which featured several grown men trying to pull the boots off of another grown man’s feet, blew up on TikTok. Then, as February in New York quickly segued into New York Fashion Week, and a handful of influencer attendees sported them in real life, making them the perfect accessory to all of the heavily photographed goings-on. Bing bong, you’ve got another viral success story.
(Somehow, also in the course of those ten days, Rihanna performed during the Super Bowl halftime show wearing a head-to-toe red outfit, which she thankfully paired with Solomon sneakers rather than Big Red Boots.)
A ten-day lifespan, from debut to sale, makes for a particularly viral fashion object—though the brand maintains they released the shoes in earnest. “It’s not a satire,” MSCHF said in a statement to the New York Times, after reportedly declining to be interviewed. “But what’s interesting is that we’re at a moment in time where it doesn’t have to be.” On the one hand, they seem silly and tactile and fun; on the other, they feel disposable and calculated and uncanny. But per MSCHF’s logic, I guess that’s why we have two hands, just like we have two feet. And surely, when one Big Red Boot exits the conversation—BOING!—another will soon enter.