Fashion trends move faster than ever today, and there may be no better exemplifier for such waning attention spans than MSCHF’s Big Red Boot.
Just three months ago, the comically oversized boot from footwear’s biggest pranksters was everywhere. Courtside at an NBA game, all over your TikTok and Instagram feeds, and on countless blog posts written up because it’d be editorial neglect not to chase the traffic driven by the Brooklyn-based art collective. MSCHF gave out pairs to key influencers and celebrities before making them available to purchase via pre-order on its website and app. Delivery, however, would take at least eight weeks to begin — beginning a race to see if anyone would still care come late-April.
Now, nearly half way into May, some orders have been fulfilled while other customers are waiting. The Big Red Boots have made their way out into the world like a virus only impacting those who dress based on and/or try to profit off of hype. Precious few are left to be infected, though. The diminishing half life of trends has provided rapid immunity.
If you pop over to StockX, you’ll see the Big Red Boot selling for below, and sometimes well below, its original retail price of $350. Sales of all sizes have hovered in the lower-$300 range for the past few days, with some even going for as low as $280. At this point, it’s hard to say who’s more disappointed: the people who thought they’d still be excited to wear the Big Red Boot months later, or the resellers who expected demand to last long enough to realize a profit. Resale prices during that waiting period went as high as $2,000, but the chances of a rebound anywhere approaching the peak is about the same as RadioShack’s stock doing the same.
The fact that no one wants to buy the Big Red Boots for anything less than a discount shouldn’t come as a surprise. MSCHF has proven masterful at manufacturing virality out of thin air, even when the joke is on the very audience it’s selling to. The tastemakers whose donning of the Big Red Boots helped create the hype cycle never had to pay for them in the first place. They were given a freebie, wore said freebie to both drive the conversation and ensure their place in it, and then moved on with their lives with the cost of however challenging the Big Red Boot was to pull off and move freely in.
Such a life cycle is nothing new, and it’s hard to imagine MSCHF did anything but identify it and experiment to see how ridiculous a product could benefit from the nature of the virality beast. What they came up with was footwear so ridiculous it bordered on unwearable, as inspiration from Astro Boy turned into an item MSCHF itself described as “REALLY not shaped like feet” but “EXTREMELY shaped like boots.”
Because the Big Red Boot promptly sold out as soon as it went on sale, the joke is certainly not on MSCHF. It’s not on the people who wore them early on either, as they got their clout while it was still there for the taking. The only people worth laughing at now are those who’ve had to take delivery of the boots over the last two weeks. All that’s left is for them to sell the Big Red Boot at a loss, leave them on ice, or actually wear them out into the world — a sequence of possibilities in which each is more embarrassing than the last.
Even if the Big Red Boot was something closer to objectively cool or more practical to wear, the chances of anybody still talking about it three months later was scant. Consider any “sneaker of the moment” — how many people fawn over images prior to release, how speedily the stock runs out, and how much higher resale prices might climb above retail. Even if resale doesn’t drop back down, how many people really still care just a few months later? As soon as a shoe moves from one of those three stages to another, there’s at least one more ready to step into the stage prior. You might get a little dopamine rush when you open the package and perhaps one more when you post a photo of your shoes to social media. Then you’ll simply rinse and repeat as you chase the next “must have.”
The jig was up on the Big Red Boots before most people could even take hold of them. Some would have seen this as inevitable, while others may not have realized until they were actually stuck holding on to two absurdly large pieces of TPU and EVA “EXTREMELY shaped like boots.”
May 13, 2023