By Margaret Mitchem & Jean-Luca Troian. Images by Margaret Mitchem for I’M Firenze Digest.
To explain the rise and fall of the Big Red Boot, we should first talk about its ascension (or descent) to notoriety.
MSCHF was founded in 2018 as an art and media company. The company quickly generated and maintained consistent media attention by working with controversial products and projects. The Big Red Boot references the 1952 vastly successful Japanese manga Astro Boy. Astro Boy was almost equally eccentric back then, portraying an android protagonist with human emotions. His outfit consists of black shorts held up by a green belt and the near to legendary Big Red Boots, which could turn into jet drives and allow the character to fly off. This is one side of the story, the other being the brand that created the hit-or-miss boots: MSCHF. This brand, referred to as structured chaos, is widely known to be involved in online trolling and controversies.
The art and media company subverts consumer expectations with the knowledge that the company is not solely a fashion brand. In doing so, MSCHF has cemented itself as a marketing master, and previous collaborations highlight this. In 2021, MSCHF’s partnership with Lil Nas X “Jesus Sneakers” (containing a drop of human blood) prompted a lawsuit by Nike1.
The plot begins shortly before Men’s Fashion week FW23.
Announced via Instagram, the boots were sent to social media moguls around the globe. The provocative boots quickly and seemingly overnight became internet sensations for their distinctive and instantly recognisable look and the immense social media interactions behind them. They were seen everywhere on social networks.
The drop was, unsurprisingly, a public relations stunt. Before the official release, social media influencers and celebrities publicised the shoes, making the BRB look like an exclusive item. Under the guise of being a limited edition, customers soon realised that anyone could receive the BRB in approximately two months as it was a preorder. This meant availability for anyone who wanted the boots. Reflected in the reselling webpages such as StockX, the initial retail price of 350€ ballooned to approximately as high as 2000€ prerelease. As soon as everyone got access to the website and realised it was a preorder, the heavily inflated resale price plummeted to 450€ and has since stabilised to circa 650€2.
Whether seen as a success or a failure by the MSCHF team, the reaction to the preorder request made the boots lose their appeal. It’s also likely that MSCHF is preparing to release their next implicitly controversial sneaker to break the internet with. It would be disappointing to end the BRB tale as reduced to an internet fad. However, their products continue to spark debate and conversation, so at the end of the day, we can consider the BRB a huge marketing success.
As the social media domino effect began, a general loss of interest was promptly reflected. The most attractive feature of the shoe is, essentially, no longer there.
What happens to a garment when the hype is non-existent?
Margaret Mitchem is a Multimedia Art student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Jean-Luca Troian is a Fashion Business student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
1. intellectual-property-helpdesk.ec.europa.eu. (n.d.). Nike suing MSCHF over Satan shoes and 4 Spanish wineries accused of DOP infringement. [online] Available at: https://intellectual-property-helpdesk.ec.europa.eu/news-events/news/nike-suing-mschf-over-satan-shoes-and-4-spanish-wineries-accused-dop-infringement-2021-04-20_en [Accessed 30 Mar. 2023].
2. stockx.com. (n.d.). MSCHF Big Red Boot. [online] Available at: https://stockx.com/it-it/mschf-big-red-boot [Accessed 30 Mar. 2023].