Earlier this month, a US district court granted Nike a temporary restraining order that stops creative agency MSCHF from shipping the Satan Shoes they designed in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X.
Launched alongside Lil Nas X’s debut album Montero, and modified from the Nike Air Max 97s, the demonic-themed sneakers are adorned with pentagram charms and emblazoned with “Luke 10:18”, a biblical passage for “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”. These sneakers were produced in a limited run of 666 pairs and would inevitably spark outrage thanks to their contentious appeal — their midsoles contain real human blood.
SOLD OUT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY
Since their release, they have polarised the masses, either adored by sneakerheads or abhorred by conservatives — and Nike. Outraged with the iteration, Nike asserted that it had no affiliation with the Satan Shoe, let alone the production.
“We do not have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them,” Nike said to CNN. The situation escalated when Nike filed a trademark infringement case and requested a temporary restraining order – restricting MSCHF from delivering the unauthorised Nikes.
Despite the drastic alterations, the swoosh logo intrinsic to Nike is still prominently visible. Nike posits that MSCHF had capitalised on Nike’s valuable reputation and rapport with their customers by using the Nike Asserted Marks. It caused consumers and potential customers to believe that MSCHF Satan Shoes had an affiliation with the brand.
While the exploitation of Nike’s trademark seems to be the root of the issue, many sneakerheads were baffled that the brand had turned a blind eye to the “Jesus” iteration in 2019. Perhaps the controversy of Satanic symbolism was too much for Nike to swallow.
MSCHF and Lil Nas X Trolls
In response to the lawsuit, MSCHF teased a “Legal Fees” t-shirt, priced at US$66.60 (of course), featuring an image of Nike’s complaint. Lil Nas X added to the mockery with trolling tweets, notably calling oppositions “crying nerds.” He continued with a faux apology video on YouTube that simply cuts to provocative scenes from his music video for Montero.