The boots were created by MSCHF, a New York-based collective with a rich history of trolling consumer culture, sometimes doing so by selling consumer goods. Images of the boots, which are expected to go on sale next Thursday, have captivated Twitter and TikTok with their absurdity.
It takes only a glance to understand why. The AirPod-shaped boots are globby from toe to ankle, at which point they jut straight up to midcalf. They are a shade of red that can only be described as "red," recalling Babybel cheese, clown noses and Swedish Fish. And they are smooth—too smooth—as if a pair of Moon Boots were pumped full of Botox. They look more like the idea of a shoe than a shoe itself.
"Big Red Boots are REALLY not shaped like feet, but they are EXTREMELY shaped like boots," the brand said in a news release.
They are, in a word, cartoonish—seemingly by design. (MSCHF calls the shoes "cartoon boots for a cool 3-D world.") Online, they have been compared to the footwear of the anime character Astro Boy and of Boots, the helpful sidekick of "Dora the Explorer."
They've begun appearing all over social media, sported by influencers, sports stars, and more. As The New York Times explains, commenters and cultural critics have "mocked the boots"—and headlines have "declared them 'stupid,' 'absurd' and 'divisive.'"
They are, of course ridiculous, and that's on purpose, because they're really just a commentary on how any consumer culture that would even entertain such shoes has already revealed itself to also be ridiculous. The New York Times reports:
MSCHF rejected the idea that the boots were a joke. "It's not a satire," MSCHF said in a statement to The New York Times, after declining to be interviewed. "But what's interesting is that we're at a moment in time where it doesn't have to be." The group said the cartoonish aesthetic had been "mainstreamed enough" to make the Big Red Boot legible as, you know, a boot.
I've seen the boots featured all over social media. Everyone wearing them looks pretty absurd, which is to be expected—I guess it's all part of the joke. I did find one standout, though, and thought I'd share him with you. The model is a man in his mid-70s named Alojz Abram, who is also affectionately known as "Gramps." According to Complex, Abram became famous a few years ago when his grandson, photographer Jannik Diefenbach, who lives in Mainz, Germany, began styling and posting photographs and videos of his grandfather. Complex explains:
Abram, a retired gaffer, was born in Slovenia but has lived in Mainz, a small town in Germany about 40 minutes outside of Frankfurt, for the last 49 years. His interest in streetwear began about a year ago, though he admits the culture isn't huge in his neighborhood. He doesn't mind it though; he likes to stand out and be different.
Somehow, against all odds, Abram actually makes the absurd boots work, and I kind of dig all of his looks. If you want to learn more about him, read a great interview with Alojz Abram here, and check out more photos of videos of him by his grandson here.