The sneaker market – including those that are rare, collectible and custom – is currently worth just over US $84 billion, and is expected to increase to just under US $120 billion by 2026. One of the, if not the, biggest name in collectible sneakers is Nike, with the US sportswear giant forming partnerships with streetwear companies and celebrities that in turn helps to create the sneaker resale industry.
But most custom and rare sneakers bearing the iconic Nike ‘Swoosh’ tick logo are designed and produced by the company itself. However, according to NBC News, rapper Lil Nas X recently commissioned a pair of custom Nike kicks that the sportswear giant doesn’t endorse one little bit.
Called the ‘Satan Shoes’ and produced in collaboration with Brooklyn-based streetwear company MSCHF, the Old Town Road rapper’s signature shoe – a modified pair of Nike Air Max 97s – comes complete with its own drop of genuine human blood embedded in the sole, along with a pentagram pendant and references to the Bible verse Luke 10:18 which reads “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
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Clearly, they’re not to everyone’s liking… But all 666 pairs (naturally) sold out on Monday March 29 at a price of US $1,018 per pair. It’s not clear whether the timing of the release was strategic or not, given the Sunday before was Palm Sunday, a Christian feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter.
This, coupled with the message the shoes are promoting, has expectedly received complaints from all corners of the Internet, with many commenters blaming Nike for allowing the shoes to be made. As NBC News reports, the sportswear giant was seemingly unaware the shoes were being produced, claiming “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF.”
“Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”
In fact, Nike doesn’t want to endorse them so badly that it is suing both Lil Nas X and MSCHF for “infringing its trademark”, according to Yahoo! News. The filed claim demands MSCHF stop selling the shoes and is prevented from using the company’s Swoosh logo for any future releases.
“There is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s Satan Shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorised or approved this product,” Nike said in its lawsuit filing.
The US rapper, who released his new song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” along with the shoes, has taken to Twitter to post a number of memes and images that appear to be sarcastic, as he seemingly finds the whole situation rather funny.
we have decided to drop these to even the score. damn y’all happy now? pic.twitter.com/RGpCiiRbGb
— nope 🏹 (@LilNasX) March 28, 2021
He also released a short 46-second video on YouTube entitled “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe”, however, before he can actually say sorry, the video cuts to a clip of the music video for his latest song showing him performing a lap dance on the Devil.
The “Satan Shoe”, whatever your opinion, does spark up a fiery debate. While Nike can’t control the reseller market where pairs of its sneakers are sold for much higher mark ups than their original price, how much can the company realistically do to stop others such as MSCHF from customising their own pairs?
Some commenters put the blame on Nike…
This isn’t hard.
When someone asks you if they can make “Satan Shoes” under your brand…
YOU SAY NO.
— Amber Krabach For WA (@AK4WA) March 28, 2021
However, some have jumped to the defence of the sportswear company, claiming their shoes can be bought and customised without needing authorisation.
I just need ya to realize Nike is not at fault here. Any company’s product can be bought at full price, customized, and resold. Plenty of those execs are just as mad about this as you.
— Prometheus (@urdadsburner) March 28, 2021
The results of Nike’s lawsuit should hopefully settle it once and for all.