Viral Big Red Boots Tread the Line Between Virtual and Reality

Lily Grodzins, Games & Humor Editor

Described as “cartoon boots for a cool 3D world,” the Big Red Boot is, well, a giant red boot. And despite its inherently simple design, its connotations are anything but. First of all, the Big Red Boot plays into “Hyper-Reality” fashion. This is the style of the fashion that is meant to blend real life with the digital until the two become indistinguishable. As the creator MSCHF put it in a recent news release, “Big Red Boots are really not shaped like feet, but they are extremely shaped like boots.” And this cartoon style is reminiscent of the fact that we are living in the “AI generation:” due to the incredible ability of computer graphics and intelligence, AI is now able to create completely fabricated images that are so believable it is impossible to distinguish them from real life. As video creator and futurism expert Agus Panzoni said, “If technology has gotten really good at representing reality rather than implicating it, like a cartoon would, why can’t we bring implications of reality to life?” This is precisely what the Big Red Boots are doing. 

This cartoon style is reminiscent of the fact that we are living in the ‘AI generation.’

Still, for MSCHF, this sort of playing around with fashion is nothing new. The brand is already well-known in the fashion world for its subversive and humorous pieces. As Fabiola Campos ’26 tells the Register Forum, “MSCHF is known to launch ironic products, for example their ‘Eat the Rich Popsicles’ which were priced at ten dollars a piece.” And so it begs the question: what makes this item so different? For one, the Big Red Boot is, in many ways, trendy. Compared to a $450 single ankle brace (an actual item selling on the MSCHF site), the Big Red Boots are relatively easy to style. Moreover, puffer jackets, such as those popularized by Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s, are recycled into winter 2023 fashion—the Big Red Boot just seems to be bringing this puffer fashion to footwear, too.

And at the center of it all, it is the boot’s bizarre union of art and life, digital and reality, illusion and truth, that has led to the boot’s popularity. Campos elaborates that “[The boots] are highly priced and cheaply made, and the style is cartoonish and bulky. There’s not a logical reason for them to be in style, which is why they are.” Despite MSCHF’s previous jabs at capitalism and consumerism, such as their signature fragrance titled “Ode de Industrie” that smells like WD-40, there are videos circulating of the Big Red Boot coming off the conveyor belt at various sweatshops. And so, despite the fascinating implications of the Big Red Boot, perhaps it is for the better to take them for what they are: a failed attempt at radical fashion and subversive commentary.

This article also appears in our March 2023 print edition.