JESUS SNEAKERS & WD-40 COLOGNE: THE HILARIOUS SUCCESS OF MSCHF

JESUS SNEAKERS & WD-40 COLOGNE: THE HILARIOUS SUCCESS OF MSCHF

by Juliette Eleuterio
7 min
MSCHF©

Has MSCHF just entered the world of cosplay with its new Big Red Boots drop – possibly referencing Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy? Honestly, we wouldn’t be surprised at this point.

The collective has been trolling us since 2016. Just take a look at their LinkedIn: the self proclaimed “Dairy Product Manufacturing” company has a rip-off of Amazon’s logo for a profile picture and for their banner a McDonald’s sign graffitied with its name on it. Clearly, the guys behind MSCHF are jokers. But who exactly are they? And how have they managed to propulse MSCHF at the top of our Instagram feeds?

MSCHF©

The chief executive behind MSCHF is Gabriel Whaley and he is surrounded by approximately 10 other employees with varying backgrounds, mainly in tech but also art and media. And that’s about all we know. MSCHF operates with a sense of mysteriousness – even Whaley doesn’t exactly define what MSCHF is (he’s assured us it’s definitely not a brand though). This mystery has only added hype to the AI-generative feet photos originators, which over time, has gained notoriety within fashion as well as general culture and been dubbed the “Internet Bansky”.

Tapping into their elusive nature, MSCHF doesn’t release products. Instead, it releases “drops”. In 2018, the collective really tapped into their tech background, dropping “The Persistence of Chaos”, nicknamed by MSCHF itself “the most dangerous piece of art”. The artwork consists of a laptop running on 6 different malwares “that have caused financial damages totaling $95B”. Since its beginning, and as the name suggests, MSCHF has been and continues to be a calculated disruptor.

MSCHF©

Perhaps what put MSCHF on the map was its now-infamous “Jesus Sneakers”, a customised pair of of Nike Air Max 97s which contained actual holy water from the Jordan River inside the soles. This was done without Nike’s consent or knowledge of course, which landed MSCHF with a lawsuit, an almost-everyday occurrence for them it seems. However quickly Nike tried to shut this down, it was too late. The Jesus shoe craze had spread, with pairs selling for over $3,000 on StockX. Drake was even spotted wearing them and it became one of the most Googled shoes of 2019. 

While many called this “the holy grail of collabs”, MSCHF’s intentions were just that: making a statement on the state of collab culture. With collaborations dropping what seems like every week, MSCHF wanted to create the ultimate link up. And which influential person would be a part of this collaboration? Jesus. And what did Jesus walk on? Water. 

MSCHF©

MSCHF has had its fair share of sneaker drops – the Tyga x MSCHF ‘Wavy Baby’ or the Lil Nas X ‘Satan Shoes’ which literally contained a drop of blood. They have even dived into the realm of luxurious fashion with the ‘Birkinstock’ drop, destroyed Birkin bags turned into the German sandal. Through these sneaker-related drops, MSCHF has positioned itself within sneaker culture. By creating ultra-rare sneakers in a very limited stock which cause a huge buzz over its unconventional design, it has driven sneakerheads to obsess over the brand and fight for their own pair of MSCHFs.

MSCHF©

Though, MSCHF does not only create sneakers. Its social commentary spans over a large pool of brands and industries. One of their latest drops is called “Smells like WD-40” Cologne, a fragrance which mimics the ridiculous branding often put out for men’s scents. MSCHF’s designs walk a fine line between ridiculous and genius – just look at drop number 10 “Puff The Squeaky Chicken”, a rubber toy turned bong –  which is the perfect recipe for online virality.

MSCHF©

What lends to a general respect of MSCHF’s work is that they aren’t sellouts. Although their drops do sell out fairly quickly, the money is not the end goal. As soon as something gets too much hype, they move on to the next thing. They reject demand and avoid creating the same thing twice. In fact, the reason chief executive Whaley refuses to define MSCHF as a brand is because that would be, in sorts, selling out. MSCHF does not have a logo and it doesn’t market itself, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Becoming a corporation would be a huge contradiction to its ethos which is, according to its website (they don’t even have an ‘about’ page, this was found after a lengthy scroll all the way down, past all the drops) to subvert “mass/popular culture and corporate operations as tools for critique and intervention”.

MSCHF©

What lends to a general respect of MSCHF’s work is that they aren’t sellouts. Although their drops do sell out fairly quickly, the money is not the end goal. As soon as something gets too much hype, they move on to the next thing. They reject demand and avoid creating the same thing twice. In fact, the reason chief executive Whaley refuses to define MSCHF as a brand is because that would be, in sorts, selling out. MSCHF does not have a logo and it doesn’t market itself, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Becoming a corporation would be a huge contradiction to its ethos which is, according to its website (they don’t even have an ‘about’ page, this was found after a lengthy scroll all the way down, past all the drops) to subvert “mass/popular culture and corporate operations as tools for critique and intervention”.

MSCHF©

MSCHF positions itself in a very unique way. Because it can’t really be defined as a brand or company, though its drop system operates just like one, it becomes a one-of-a-kind entity. By enlisting talents such as Sarah Snyder for its latest campaign, MSCHF simultaneously places itself in the realm of popular culture while also commenting on it. Though perhaps MSCHF’s greatest achievement is fooling everyone that their drops are light-hearted and playful, when they are actually extremely well thought-out. 

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