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Why people are spending $350 on these cartoon boots: 'I just had to have them because they were going viral'

For many fashion enthusiasts these viral boots were a must have.(Photo: Eva Moxon)
For many fashion enthusiasts, these viral boots were a must-have.(Photo: Eva Moxon)

What do Ciara, Janelle Monet, Lil Wayne and Coi Leray all have in common? They have all recently been spotted rocking some big, red, cartoon-esque rubber boots that look like they were taken straight off of Astro Boy himself.

If you’re on social media, you have likely seen them.

But where did these boots come from?

Released on Feb. 16 by MSCHF (pronounced “mischief,”) an art collective based in Brooklyn, these "cartoon boots for a cool 3D world" sold out in seconds.

But the statement-making shoes took over the internet long before they were even available for purchase.

"I just had to have them because they were going viral," Eva Moxon, a 26-year-old content creator who snagged the shoes earlier this month from MSCHF CRO Daniel Greenberg during New York Fashion Week before they officially dropped, tells Yahoo Life.

The boots retail for $350 but are now only available on resale sites for over $1,200.

On Moxon’s flight home to Los Angeles from New York, she says she was constantly stopped at the airport, explaining that inquiring minds wanted to know more about the larger-than-life-shoes.

"It was creating a whole hype at the airport, which I didn't even mean to do. I just couldn't fit them in my suitcase, so I had to wear them. But a lot of people wanted to touch them," says Moxon.

What shocked her most was the interest older people showed in the boots, something she attributes to the nostalgic allure of the boot.

"People in the older generation complimented them and loved them. I think they knew, like, the Astro Boy concept and what it was referring to," says Moxon.

The boot's fun-for-all-ages motif isn't exclusive to LAX, though.

Fashion TikTok's favorite grandfather and grandson duo Alojz Abram, 77, and Jannik Diefenbach, 26, tell Yahoo Life they had to get their hands on the shoes out of sheer curiosity.

"They are real-life comic shoes and I wanted to see how they look and feel so I had to get them," says Diefenbach, one half of the duo that soared to popularity in 2017 after he shared photos of his "gramps" rocking high-end streetwear labels.

"I love showing people that age is just a number," says Diefenbach.

In the years since, the two have amassed over 3 million followers on TikTok, with Abram's recent MSCHF styling video raking in almost 100 million views and over 14 million likes.

The comment section was filled with fans declaring Diefenbach to be one of the few people to actually pull off the look.

"Bro actually made them look good," read one comment.

"Grandpa killed it so stylish," wrote another fan.

Both Abram and Diefenbach have shared videos of themselves rocking the mega boots, but ultimately Diefenbach says he doesn't see himself wearing them on a day-to-day basis.

"Due to their huge design, walking feels a bit weird but it is definitely possible. I see them more like an art piece, so that's why I would never wear them as my daily shoes," he says. "As an accessory in my living room, they'll be great.”

Shoes this big (both in hype and diameter) mean they will not be everyone's cup of tea.

"I would never wear them. I don't like them at all," Aniyah Morinia, an editor at Who What Wear, tells Yahoo Life.

"I've seen so many videos about the fact that people can't take them off. And I feel like for a boot, it's not that practical, and it doesn't look that flattering," she says.

Still, Morinia says she understands the appeal from a media perspective.

"From a fashion editor standpoint, I love it when people try new trends and test them out. And I've seen people style them well, like people who are really into streetwear. But I personally draw the line at having to cut the back of the boot to get them off. But I guess we do everything in the name of fashion," says Morinia.

For Sally Javadi, aka Sally Sneakers, taking the shoes off was the easy part.

"I did a video actually taking them off pretty easily. But I was wearing fuzzy socks," she says.

The 27-year-old Denmark-based content creator has been collecting sneakers for almost a decade and turned her passion for footwear into a full-time career in 2019.

Most of Javadi's content centers on the latest sneaker, but when she saw the boots, she knew she had to have them.

"When I saw those, because they were so fun and so unrealistic in a realistic way, I found them intriguing. So the minute I saw them, I reached out to him, like, 'I need these,'" says Javadi.

As a self-described "sneaker girl," Javadi can acknowledge some of the impracticalities of such a statement-making shoe. But as a collector, she says the boots stretch beyond the confines of fashion into the realm of art.

"I feel like that is actually what makes them fun. The fact that they are so unrealistically realistic. I was genuinely interested in having them mainly as a collector's item," says Javadi.

Beyond being showstoppers, though, the boots seem to represent a highly-anticipated shift towards a more playful attitude surrounding fashion.

"It's just a way of saying 'stop being so serious," says Javadi, pointing out the sentimentality of the shoe.

MSCF did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo Life regarding the inspiration behind the boot, but its website notes, ”Cartoonishness is an abstraction that frees us from the constraints of reality.”

It also seems that the collective’s ultimate question, as noted on the website, has been answered: "How do you make a shoe using as few geometric primitives as possible, and still have it read instantly?"

This idea, of boots being made to resemble any number of cartoon shoes, is exactly what makes them the ultimate grail item, says Javadi.

"I think for most people, it reminds them of childhood, it reminds them of not taking things too seriously and playing around with fashion," she says, adding that this type of prompt is great because "some people have a really hard time accepting the fact that people like to experiment with stuff.”

Even in the presence of naysayers, though, fashion enthusiasts such as herself agree that this big red boot is just MSCHF doing what it does best: creating hype.

"​​I feel like MSCHF is generally good at creating fun stuff and testing the boundaries when it comes to fashion,” she says. “They always create something where people are like on the verge of 'Do we love it?' 'Do we hate it?' or 'Do we love and hate it at the same time?'"

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