Nike’s legal action over Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes has come to an end. And now they’ve brought Jesus into it too. His shoes, anyway. The creator of the shoes, MSCHF, has agreed to recall all of the Nike trainers it modified to represent Satan and Jesus. Both sides have said that they are “pleased” with the agreement. That’s Nike and MSCHF – Satan and Jesus haven’t yet commented.
Art collective MSCHF released its Satan Shoes in collaboration with Lil Nas X last month. Limited to 666 pairs, the modified Nike Air Max 97s each had their air soles injected with red ink and (they claim) a single drop of human blood, along with a pentagram hung off their laces. Nike was not best pleased, saying that the shoes – which drew significant public and media attention – were causing “significant confusion and dilution” of its brand in the marketplace.
The issue was that many people assumed that Nike was in on the whole thing, and felt that the brand was promoting Satanism as a result. So many people were upset by the shoes (UPSET BY THE SHOES!) that there were growing calls for a boycott of the brand as a whole.
As well as making it clear that it was not involved with the project, Nike’s legal action sought an injunction stopping MSCHF from shipping any trainers it had sold. Unfortunately, the super efficient MSCHF had already sold and shipped 665 pairs before the lawsuit was filed. In the end, Nike only blocked the 666th pair from being given away by Lil Nas X in a competition.
However, in their settlement, MSCHF has agreed that it will recall all the Satan Shoes it sold last month, as well as the similar Jesus Shoes it produced in 2019, and refund their purchasers.
“As part of the settlement, Nike has asked MSCHF, and MSCHF has agreed, to initiate a voluntary recall to buy back any Satan Shoes and Jesus Shoes for their original retail prices, in order to remove them from circulation”, says a Nike spokesperson. “If any purchasers were confused, or if they otherwise want to return their shoes, they may do so for a full refund”.
“Purchasers who choose not to return their shoes and later encounter a product issue, defect, or health concern should contact MSCHF, not Nike”, they added, before concluding: “The parties are pleased to put this dispute behind them”.
Quite how many people will return their shoes as a result of the offer they will receive on the back of this settlement is unclear. It’s likely to only be a small number, if any at all choose to do so. Although Nike did say in its litigation that there are some consumers who regularly buy up official limited edition Nike trainers, and may have been annoyed to find that the Satan Shoes they spent $1018 buying were not, in fact, an official Nike product.
Either way, regardless of how many returns there now are, Nike is likely “pleased” that its lawsuit prompted widespread media coverage, getting across its message that it had absolutely nothing to do with the Satan Shoes and should not be boycotted over them.
MSCHF is also “pleased” with the outcome. It’s unclear what other terms there may be to the settlement – and if any money will be paid to Nike – but the publicity it has received as a result of the sportswear firm’s legal action has been incredibly valuable.
In a statement to Law360, MSCHF’s attorney David H Bernstein says that his client “was pleased with the settlement”, adding that Nike’s lawsuit “brought extraordinary publicity to MSCHF and its works of art”.
“With these Satan Shoes – which sold out in less than a minute – MSCHF intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practised by some brands, and about the perniciousness of intolerance”, he goes on. “The 666 shoes – 665 of which were already sold and shipped to collectors before the temporary restraining order hearing last week – were individually-numbered works of art that will continue to represent the ideals of equality and inclusion wherever they are displayed”.
Although not a defendant in Nike’s lawsuit, Lil Nas X has done well out of all this too. The Satan Shoes were designed to promote his new single ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ – the video for which sees him giving Satan a lapdance. The track went straight to number one in the US last week, aided by the controversy surrounding both the video and the shoes.
This morning on Twitter he joked, “Y’all keep streaming ‘Call Me By Your Name’ so I can pay for this damn Nike lawsuit”.
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