Makers of 'Satan Shoe' Lil Nas X collaboration insist they are 'art' after being sued by Nike

New York art collective MSCHF says it is 'honestly surprised' by Nike's action

MSCHF has come to a settlement with Nike over their 'Satan shoe' collaboration with Lil Nas X. Instagram / MSCHF
MSCHF has come to a settlement with Nike over their 'Satan shoe' collaboration with Lil Nas X. Instagram / MSCHF

The makers of the "Satan Shoe", a collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X, have insisted they are "art" after being sued by Nike and ordered by a court to stop selling the item.

Nike, which has no connection to the project, sued MSCHF Product Studio after it released 666 pairs of black Nike Air Max 97s. The trainers had been customised to feature a bronze pentagram, a Bible verse referring to Satan's fall and a drop of human blood mixed with red ink in the midsole.

A US federal judge has granted Nike's motion for a temporary restraining order, banning the Brooklyn art collective from fulfilling orders for the shoes and from further using Nike's trademarks.

The judge said Nike had demonstrated MSCHF's actions were "likely to confuse, and likely are confusing, consumers about the origin, sponsorship or approval" of the shoes, and that they would "dilute and tarnish" Nike's brand, causing "irreparable harm" without the restraining order.

However, MSCHF has insisted the shoes are art and that their production falls under freedom of expression. "There is no better way to start a conversation about consumer culture than by participating in consumer culture," the studio said.

MSCHF also said it was "honestly surprised" by Nike's action, and that the collective "look forward to working with Nike and the court to resolve this case".

The temporary restraining order will be in place until the outcome of Nike's motion for a preliminary injunction is decided, with MSCHF ordered to appear on Wednesday, April 14, to argue its case.

The shoes sold out almost instantly after being released last Monday, going for $1,018 a pair.

One remaining pair was supposed to form part of a Lil Nas X Twitter giveaway, but the collective said this was now prohibited "indefinitely".

The sale is a follow-up to MSCHF's "Jesus Shoes" – white Nike Air Max 97s with holy water in the sole.

Nike did not sue over that product, a fact pointed out by MSCHF, and the collective said: "Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other?"

Lil Nas X's collaboration on the shoes is linked to the release of the music video for his new song Montero (Call Me By Your Name).

The rapper, born Montero Lamar Hill, shot to fame with his megahit song Old Town Road.

Additional reporting by AFP

Updated: April 4, 2021 07:03 PM

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