Art collective and sometimes streetwear brand MSCHF has made its name by both thumbing its nose at consumerism while stoking it through its hypebeast-meets-Warhol product drops.
The New York-based group was responsible for Lil Nas X’s notorious Satan Shoes, a limited run of 666 pairs of modified Nike Air Max 97s that earned it a lawsuit from none other than the sneaker giant itself last March. (The companies agreed to a settlement in April.) Last week, MSCHF unveiled ice cream trucks in New York and Los Angeles selling Eat the Rich Popsicles—$10 frozen treats shaped like the visages of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Alibaba’s Jack Ma.
The organization has now dropped its latest creation: the Gobstomper sneaker, made in collaboration with Jimmy Fallon. Announced on The Tonight Show on Monday, the $195 Gobstomper is a skate shoe that reveals different colors as the surface gray suede is worn away with use, much like a Gobstopper candy changes shades as its outer layers dissolve.
“I’m excited about this one, because Jimmy is a genuine sneakerhead, but he’s never done a sneaker,” says Daniel Greenberg, cofounder and chief revenue officer of MSCHF. And though the organization has a knack for achieving virality online, MSCHF’s collaboration with Fallon and The Tonight Show signals a new push to introduce the group’s decidedly outré perspective to more mainstream audiences.
Founded in 2016, Brooklyn-based MSCHF has been responsible for more than 80 product drops so far, ranging from high concept—an air-gapped laptop filled with malware programs that have caused more than $95 billion in financial damage—to prurient, such as a neural network that creates AI-generated photos of feet (no word yet on whether feet pics have crossed the uncanny valley).
The company’s most prominent collab was last year’s Satan Shoes. The $1,018 sneakers featured a pentagram charm on the tongue and a drop of blood mixed with ink, among other embellishments. While the Satan Shoes and their predecessors, the $1,000 Jesus Shoes, were designed as art pieces and not really meant to be worn, the Gobstomper, like MSCHF’s more recent sneaker drops—Tap3 and the Super Normal—are part of the organization’s foray into streetwear. (Would-be customers have to download the MSCHF Sneakers app to purchase.) “Something that we say a lot is that we make sneakers for people to wear,” Greenberg says.
In that sense, the Gobstomper is designed to take that idea to the extreme because the colors hidden below the surface will show themselves only with wear and tear. “So many people clean their sneakers every day; this is the opposite,” Greenberg says. “We want you to beat it up. We want you to wreck it, scuff it, destroy it. And that completely adds to it. If you keep it clean, it’s still a fine skate shoe, but then it’s just going to be a gray skate shoe.”
Greenberg also says that Gobstomper owners could get creative by taking a Dremel blade or X-Acto knife to the shoe: “To each their own. But it offers a lot of opportunity for creativity.”
As with most of MSCHF’S drops, there’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek humor with the Gobstomper, as it’s a skate shoe created in partnership with a celebrity who doesn’t know how to skate—and the imagined aftermath of him attempting to is the centerpiece of the show’s marketing campaign. As Greenberg puts it, part of the unexpected nature of the drop is “the irony of doing a skate shoe with someone who can’t skate and then doing a whole photo shoot about them falling on their ass.”