Nike Lawsuit Against Satan Shoes
Nike is suing MSCHF, a small Brooklyn-based company, for its collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X to sell 666 pairs of altered Nike Air Max 97s dubbed “Satan Shoes.”
Certain employers encourage workers to donate blood as a charitable gesture. However, six employees at MSCHF, a quirky Brooklyn-based company known for items such as toaster-shaped bath bombs and rubber-chicken bongs, donated their blood for a new shoe collection.
“’Sacrificed’ is a cool term — the blood was donated entirely by the MSCHF team,” one of the organization’s founders, Daniel Greenberg, said in an email on Sunday. (When asked who collected the blood, Mr. Greenberg responded, “Uhhhh yeah hahah not medical professionals, we did it ourselves.”
Mr. Greenberg explained that a drop of blood is combined with ink and used to fill an air bubble in the sneaker, a Nike Air Max 97.
“Not a lot of blood was collected, in fact,” he explained, adding, “About six of us on the team gave.”
MSCHF began selling 666 pairs of the shoes — each pair is $1,018 — on Monday as a follow-up to a line of holy water-infused Jesus Shoes. They were completely sold out in less than a minute.
Mr. Greenberg claimed that Nike was not involved “in any capacity” in the process.
Nike said on Sunday, “We have no association with Little Nas X or MSCHF.” These shoes were not designed or released by Nike, and we do not support them.”
And on Monday, Nike sued MSCHF in a United States District Court over the shoes, claiming that MSCHF’s “unauthorized Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution, as well as establish an erroneous connection between MSCHF’s goods and Nike.”
“Decisions on the items to use the’swoosh’ logo on belong to Nike, not to third parties such as MSCHF,” Nike said in its complaint, referring to the company’s “swoosh” logo. “Nike petitions the court to enjoin MSCHF from fulfilling any more orders for its unauthorized Satan Shoes.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission did not immediately respond to a Sunday request for comment on whether there were any complaints or legal problems about the shoes’ sale.
“If we can get people to care about the brand and not the product,” Mr. Greenberg told news website Insider last year. “We build what we want. We are unconcerned.”
MSCHF collaborated with rapper Lil Nas X on the Satan Shoes following the release of a devil-themed music video for his song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” in which he gyrates on Satan’s lap.
Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, “cheerfully rejoices in love as a gay man” in the video, according to Jon Pareles, The New York Times’ chief music critic.
Lil Nas X released the single in 2019, and the title appears to be a nod to the novel “Call Me by Your Name,” which was turned into a film about a clandestine summer romance between two men.
The shoes are embellished with a bronze pentagram charm and bear the inscription “Luke 10:18” — a reference to the biblical verse that states, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”
Sarcastically reacting to the outcry over the shoes on social media, Lil Nas X uploaded a video to YouTube on Sunday titled “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe” — but what appears to be an apology cuts to the music video’s sexually explicit scene with Satan.
Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota was among those who criticized the shoes. Ms. Noem, a Republican, reported on Twitter that it was incorrect to tell children that the shoes were exclusive.
“What could be more exclusive?” “Their divinely endowed immortal soul,” she wrote.
Lil Nas X responded immediately: “You’re a whole governor and you’re tweeting about some damn shoes.” Carry out your responsibilities!” Ms. Noem responded with a Bible verse: “What good is it for someone to receive the whole universe but lose their soul?”
MSCHF was “smart” to make just 666, according to Stephen J. Hoch, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “They would not be saddled with an excessive amount of unsold inventory,” he said.
“It is entirely a gimmick, and a bad one at that,” he continued. “And the expense is absurd.”
Making limited-edition streetwear — sold in “drops” — leads to product speculation and high resale rates.
Numerous collectibles, such as coffee tables, Nike Air Jordan shoes, and whiskey, have increased in value as a result of the pandemic.
At the very least, the shoes are palpable: This month, a piece of art that exists solely digitally and is checked as the only one in the world via an N.F.T., or nonfungible token, fetched more than $69 million.
On the resale market, a pair of the Satan Shoes is unlikely to fetch such a high price. However, the blood and other satanic components are a “definitely special marketing tactic,” according to Barbara E. Kahn, another University of Pennsylvania marketing professor.
She claimed that the strategy would “clearly appeal to a niche market segment, but it may appeal to that segment in particular.”
“A part of the messaging is the dismantling of barriers and social norms,” she explained. “That implies a new way of doing things, which is consistent with the goal of dismantling discriminatory societal norms.”
Lil Nas X wrote on Twitter on Thursday to “14-year-old Montero” that the song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” was about “a guy I met last summer.”
“I am aware that we agreed not to come forward publicly,” he said. “I understand we decided to keep this secret, but this will encourage many other queer people to simply exist.”