Move over Clifford: Something bigger and redder, something that’s got more people saying, “Dawg, wut?” than you ever have, has hit the scene. Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF is releasing a pair of cartoonishly shaped-and-sized red boots that have piqued the interest and intense dislike of the sartorially online. “I love how unserious they are,” someone tweeted. “How do I block a piece of clothing (the MSCHF boots),” another posted. MSCHF has achieved the enviable level of constructing clothes that make people feel things. I, personally, am feeling delighted.
“Cartoonishness is an abstraction that frees us from the constraints of reality,” MSCHF said in a statement about the already-viral Big Red Boots. MSCHF is the collective behind Lil Nas X’s infamous Satan Shoes that contained human blood as well as the Art Basel ATM that publicly ranked gallery-goers’ net worth. Unlike those endeavors—which worked to reveal human greed and damnation—the Big Red Boots (BRBs), modeled after the anime character Astro Boy’s red boots, comically refuse sins of the flesh. In fact, they exist in a detached fantasy world altogether. If you’ll allow me (a cringe millennial) to quote Liz Lemon: “I want to go to there.”
MSCHF announced the boots, which go on sale next week, with a photoshoot starring model Sarah Snyder. In the various photos, Snyder is posed like a video game protagonist—sort of like if Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was a Gen-Z Sim. The BRBs make it seem like you can pick her up and place her wherever you’d like to see her story play out. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure but an avant-garde hype beast edition. Will this character head to her dark-money-funded coffee shop this morning? Will he take the subway to the latest pop-up art installation designed for social media engagement? Wherever they go, they will take a photo of the boots. That much is for sure.
The BRBs also feel spiritually opposed to the popular Tabi toe shoes—a style I can really only explain as “centaur meets Mary Kate Olsen.” Whereas the Tabi shoes feel grotesquely human, the BRBs are delightfully devoid of any corporeal restrictions. Their cartoonish size and hermetic thermoplastic form rocket the wearer into a dreamland. I want to walk on clouds with the BRBs. I want to lick a huge lollipop wearing the BRBs. I want to kick someone, as MSCHF promises, and have the shoes go “BOING!”
In that way, the BRBs feel like an extension of the main character syndrome that’s taken over the internet in the past year or so, a self-positioning amplified by TikTok’s Get Ready With Me (GRWM) or Day In The Life (DITL) type videos. How could anyone deny someone wearing clownish red fantasy boots a protagonist storyline? “Look at me!” they scream. “I live in a fantasy land where I am royalty!” If the boots themselves didn’t portray that (which they do) the $350 price tag on the gimmicky footwear certainly does.
But is that quality so bad? I don’t think so. The BRBs push the limit on clothes-as-costumes in the social media age and perpetuate the main character energy of the wearer. They also expose just how incredibly goofy that sort of mentality is—it’s the joyful duality of a reversible jacket! The wearer can have it both ways.
So, count me in on these playful shoes. They leap a step further than Balenciaga’s TF2 boots, encapsulating the mind’s image of what even is a boot. These are them! Down the line, I anticipate an image of the BRBs with the text “Ce n’est pas une botte” beneath it. What then are the BRBs? They’re an indulgent escape into the cartoonish abstract world that MSCHF promises us. In that world, we really are the main character. What more do we want from experimental fashion?