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Being sued by Nike for its Lil Nas X's Satan blood sneaker is the ultimate endgame for viral streetwear and art company MSCHF

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 30 Mar 2021

<p><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60633e02c9d73b00186e9264-2048/Exbfpl2WgAAQkl8.jpeg" border="0" alt="Lil Nas X's " data-mce-source="MSCHF/Twitter" data-mce-caption="Lil Nas X's &amp;quotSatan Shoe&amp;quot collaboration with MSCHF."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Getting sued by Nike might just be the best thing to happen to MSCHF, the Brooklyn, New York-based art collective that sells meme-like products in drop-style launches.</p><p>The company that has previously gone viral for its <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-jesus-sneakers-filled-with-holy-water-2019-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nike sneakers filled with Holy Water</a> and toaster-shaped bathbombs has finally <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-lil-nas-x-satan-blood-shoe-mschf-lawsuit-2021-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener">incurred legal action</a> from Nike with the Monday launch of its "Satan Shoes." The shoes were made in collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X and include a drop of human blood in the midsole. All 666 pairs of sneakers <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-lil-nas-x-satan-blood-shoe-mschf-lawsuit-2021-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sold out</a> in under one minute on Monday.</p><p>In a complaint filed on Monday, Nike accused MSCHF of trademark infringement and dilution. The sneakers, which appear to be modeled after the Nike Air Max 97 and feature Nike's trademarked "Swoosh" symbol, led consumers to believe Nike had created the product, the complaint alleges.</p><p>A Nike spokesperson told Insider that Nike has no relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF and that "the Satan Shoes were produced without Nike's approval or authorization, and Nike is in no way connected with this project." MSCHF did not return a request for comment for this story.</p><p>While it might seem natural for a lawsuit from one of the biggest footwear powerhouses to scare a small art collective, MSCHF plays by a different set of rules. The irreverent company actually banks on pushback from brands to help increase the value of its products. As such, a lawsuit from Nike will likely help grow MSCHF's notoriety.</p><p>When MSCHF launched a <a href="https://mschfx.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="7887d89eca55d94c753daf658a9fe04b">t-shirt</a> with fabric from 10 popular brands including Nike, Supreme, and Adidas that poked fun at the absurdity of "collab culture" over the summer, MSCHF founder and CEO Gabe Whaley told <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/why-mschf-founder-want-nike-cease-and-desist-fake-collab-2020-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Insider</a> that getting hit with legal action would only help the product grow in value and popularity.</p><p>At the time of the collab shirt's release, Whaley said the likelihood of receiving a cease and desist letter from at least one of the brands included in the t-shirt was high. But if MSCHF was told to pull the products, their resale value would immediately skyrocket among hypebeasts, or people obsessed with getting their hands on limited merchandise, Whaley said.</p><p>Pushback from brands "just creates more symbolism for the symbol that we're creating," Whaley said. "It adds another dimension of meaning behind it."</p><h2>A history of antagonism</h2><p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5fc93672b6a3a800199b66ac-2000/untitled%20design%20-%202020-01-03t131723.710.png" border="0" alt="mschf viral internet" data-mce-source="MSCHF; Paige Leskin/Business Insider"></p><p>The MSCHF team has a history of antagonizing brands like Nike and Supreme. In 2019, the company released its popular <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-jesus-sneakers-filled-with-holy-water-2019-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jesus Shoe</a>, a pair of white Nike Air Max 97s, complete with genuine Holy Water from the River Jordan in its sole, a crucifix on the laces, and an inscription of the Bible verse Matthew 14:25 that discusses the moment Jesus walks on water. The pair went for $1,425 at retail and quickly appeared on the resale market for up to <a href="https://nypost.com/2019/10/08/jesus-shoes-with-actual-holy-water-inside-them-sell-for-3000/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80" data-uri="9cdc3aa8d413b4f46dc223251ea40acd">$3,000 a pair.</a></p><p>Nike never came after the MSCHF team for those sneakers, but Whaley said he did incur the wrath of the Catholic Church.</p><p>But this time, the Satan sneaker has garnered a different type of infamy, with viral images of the product spurring heated debates and <a href="https://twitter.com/NickSwagyPYoung/status/1376137872609177602" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reactions</a> on social media.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/saint" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Saint</a>, a Twitter account and associated website focused on <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/saint-founder-builds-viral-media-empire-twitter-sneaker-complex-2020-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sneaker and streetwear culture</a> and news with almost 200,000 followers, broke the news of the collaboration with a viral tweet that was viewed over 37 million times on Twitter, according to analytics viewed by Insider. The tweet was retweeted by Lil Nas X and thousands of others and ignited an online debate over the controversial sneakers.</p><p></p><div><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en" data-cards="" data-conversation=""><p lang="en" dir="ltr">MSCHF x Lil Nas X "Satan Shoes" <br><br>Nike Air Max '97<br>Contains 60cc ink and 1 drop of human blood<br>666 Pairs, individually numbered<br>$1,018<br>March 29th, 2021 <a href="https://t.co/XUMA9TKGSX">pic.twitter.com/XUMA9TKGSX</a></p> SAINT (@saint) <a href="https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/1375532655551389696'ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 26, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></div><p></p><p>The viral tweet was also named in Nike's lawsuit against MSCHF as the originator of the news regarding the Satan shoes. According to Saint founder and CEO Matt Steiner, the post was the account's most popular tweet ever in terms of engagement.</p><p>Steiner posited that media attention stemming from the initial tweet was what differentiated this sneaker drop from the Jesus shoes and led to the legal reaction from Nike. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem even quoted the tweet in her <a href="https://twitter.com/govkristinoem/status/1376239196709478400" target="_blank" rel="noopener">criticism</a> of the sneakers.</p><p>"If the tweet wasn't there, I don't think the lawsuit would have happened," Steiner said.</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/the-lil-nas-xs-satan-shoes-mschf-nike-lawsuit-help-2021-3#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-most-expensive-liquid-thoroughbred-horse-semen-2020-3">Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid</a></p>
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