Nike, are we for real still doing this?
Frankly, we thought the battle over MSCHF and Lil Nas X’s too-ridiculous-to-be-taken-seriously “Satan Shoes” was settled in April, when Nike’s suit of the streetwear brand resulted in an agreed-upon recall. At the time, MSCHF offered to buy back all 665 Air Max 97s sold of the 666 the brand customized with a pentagram pendant, Satan-specific Bible verse (Luke 10:18), and, most provocatively, a drop of human blood in the 60 cc of red ink in the shoe’s sole.
At the time, Lil Nas X hadn’t been implicated in the suit—we presumed because it wasn’t the first time MSCHF had riffed on a Nike frame, having created a Jesus-themed shoes two years prior, with zero repercussions. To satisfy those calling out the hypocrisy, the buyback agreement included this style, as well; done and done, and moving on—or so we thought. But at $1,018 a pair (corresponding with Luke 10:18), we clearly underestimated the power of capitalism.
On Friday, there was buzz that Lil Nas X would indeed be heading to court with the sportswear juggernaut—though what specific recourse Nike is pursuing from the 22-year-old rapper, we’re not sure. Nor do we know what the outcome will be, as the appearance was scheduled to occur as this post was being composed. (All reporting aside, we think it’s frivolous AF.) In its complaint against MSCHF (h/t Newsweek), Nike said the brand “suffered significant harm to its goodwill, including among consumers who believe that Nike is endorsing satanism.”
*insert eyeroll here*
We think the swoosh is pretty safe from “satanic panic.” But as one of the most satisfying follows on social media, the artist himself has flipped the legal threat to his advantage; over the weekend posting a series of send-ups on TikTok, and Then, as #FreeLilNasX trended on Twitter Monday morning, the rapper gave us a Klump-worthy glimpse of what he imagined the proceedings might look like while teasing his upcoming album, Industry Baby—due out this Friday (July 23), if you’re nasty.
Give that boy an Emmy to go with his Grammys—and shoutout to cameos from both the Satan shoe and Lil Nas X’s vocal coach KJ Rose, who makes a quick FaceTime appearance in the beginning)! But in case you think this is all a publicity stunt, think again; a rare somber tweet from Lil Nas X clarified that he might be a little shook by the suit, after all (though “going to jail” is definitely a joke).
As far as the frivolousness of Nike continuing to pursue this suit after an agreement had already been reached with MSCHF, Lil Nas X’s followers had plenty to say. After all, as we’ve previously noted, the streetwear market is rife with customizations and collabs; it’s part of the culture. As a result, how this suit shakes out could potentially shake up a creative community that has no doubt helped build Nike’s cachet in years past—as well as countless other brands.
And then, there’s simply the optics of a sportswear giant going after a young, Black, gay rapper on the rise for a stunt that really shouldn’t have been that serious, beyond the initial rebuke and recall. After all, we’re talking a run of less than 700 shoes, here—specifically, $677, 988 plus tax, if you do the math. Nike’s 2020 revenue was $37.4 billion. So again, Nike—we really still doing this?
We’ll of course be following this story to see what happens next, but in the meantime, we’ll remain focused on what everyone really wants to know: What did Lil Nas X wear to court?