Imani Smith

Online Managing Editor

8 March 2023

Image courtesy of: Wisdom Kaye

The internet never fails to feed the flames of debate when it comes to the latest fashion trends. The most recent controversy first arose on February 6th, when the concept for the fashion brand MSCHF’s newest boots leaked on social media. The design was inspired by the Japanese manga character Astro Boy, a classic character created by Osamu Tezuka in 1951. MSCHF’s attempt to bring the cartoon to the footwear industry has led consumers to question the notoriety of prestigious designer fashion companies.

The “Big Red Boot,” or BRB, replicates the round and tall shape of Astroy Boy’s famous footwear. It officially released online on February 11th, selling for $350. The boot, comprised of rubber and foam materials, portrays a minimalist idea while still being a statement piece within a given outfit. The excessively oversized and cartoonish nature of the piece aids in fashionably blurring the line between reality and fiction through impracticality.

Impractical fashion is nothing new to the MSCHF brand. They are known for poking fun at consumerism by continuing to release outrageous products. For example, the WD-40 cologne scent, Birkenstocks made of fragments of Birkin bags, the ATM machine that photographs and ranks users alongside their bank balance, and the Jesus shoes injected with holy water so that you too can “walk on water.” The name “MSCHF,” noticeably akin to that of the word “mischief,” suits the reputation of the company exactly, whereas the punchline of their joke centers the consumer, who is expectantly intrigued enough to buy the newest flamboyant product.

One MSCHF product that aided in popularizing the brand was the “Satan Shoes.” These shoes were a limited edition of the Nike Air Max 97 and a collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X. They include a pentagram pendant and reference to the Bible verse Luke 10:18, supposedly along with a drop of blood from a MSCHF staff member in the sole. Aligning with the referenced Bible verse, the shoes sold for $1,018. The concept for the sneakers evoked discomfort for certain viewers–especially given Lil Nas X’s less-than-family-friendly reputation–also intriguing viewers of differing opinions.

Other rappers and celebrities seen wearing MSCHF’s newest walking scandal, the “Big Red Boots”, include Coi Leray, Ciara, Lil wayne, Diplo, and others. Many of them have faced backlash for taking part in this trend, for example Coi Leray’s half-time performance at the Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers, where she flaunted the new boots paired with a black bodysuit. On top of this, a viral video of someone trying on the shoes then sliding around the floor not being able to get them off spread the word about the shoe.

During the peak of its popularity, Astro Boy, BRB’s sole inspiration (get it), had a similar influence on pop culture and fashion. Some say that the original manga’s creator, Osamu Tezuka was inspired himself by the footwear of American football players in the early 1950s, which was popular in Japan at the time. Other sources claim that he based his design off roller skates, which are similar to the speedy, high-tech nature of Astro Boy’s rocket booster boots.

Due to the black-and-white limitations of 20th century media, the general public actually did not know the true color of the beloved character’s shoes. They appeared a light gray shade in the comics leading many to believe they were a bright color such as red. Throughout the many different character designs that the robot boy had been through, some iterations led fans to believe that the boots were a sleek black.

A few fans of the comic have taken a liking to MSCHF’s invention for how silly it’s emulation of the character is, while others hate it for just that. Personally, I really enjoy the concept and how blatantly silly it’s willing to be. The hate that the shoes have been receiving is wildly extreme due to one thing: people simply don’t like fun. My question is, why does fashion have to be so serious and restrictive? Why not do something stupid once in a while?

Based on pictures that I’ve seen, the “Big Red Boots” don’t look good styled with an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt. High fashion has to be styled with more thought and consideration than just throwing on whatever’s at the front of your closet. TikTok influencer and model Wisdom Kaye is the first example I show to BRB-antis when I have to defend the footwear. 

Kaye, who has over nine-million followers on TikTok, has gone viral time and time again because of his expensive and iconic high-fashion outfits. He often builds his viral looks based on specific concepts or fictional characters, much like MSCHF had done. Many of the outfits he’s crafted with the Astro Boy boots utilize red, yellow, black, white, or pink shades to match. He does a better job than most people at grasping bodily proportions and mixing typically unrelated colors. Simply put, his outfits with the boots are the most aesthetically pleasing.

Internet personalities will likely continue to bash the designer boots, but I am avid about defending the likeness of the “Big Red Boots.” Although, whether or not the boots are here to stay as something that people will still be wearing in a few years or decades, as opposed to it being a trend to come and go, is also up for debate. Either way, the world clearly was not prepared for MSCHF to drop the dumbest and coolest boots of the year.

Posted by Imani Smith

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