Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF’s sneaker collaborations with rappers have drawn both excitement and controversy. The group’s “Satan Shoe” collab with Lil Nas X not only drew fire from conservative commentators but also got slapped with a lawsuit from Nike. Now, another of MSCHF’s sneaker crossovers is the subject of a trademark infringement lawsuit. This time, Vans is suing the customizer over its Tyga-endorsed Wavy Baby sneaker, which alters what appears to be a pair of Vans Old Skools, giving them a bizarre, curvy sole and adjusting the iconic side stripes to match.
Although the shoes were set to release on April 18, Vans filed for a restraining order against MSCHF, saying the Wavy Baby shoes violated its trademarks and would confuse customers into thinking they were an official Vans collaboration. MSCHF, however, argues that the shoes are an artistic parody commenting on sneakerhead culture, consumerism, and corporate sneaker collaborations. According to Billboard, Megan K. Bannigan, MSCHF’s attorney in the case, told a judge in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday, “These shoes comment on consumerism, on the absurdity of sneakerhead culture. This was released as an art project. It was not released in competition with Vans.”
MSCHF also pointed out that all 4,000 pairs of the limited edition shoes already sold out, and the company has no intention to make more. However, according to Billboard, US District Judge William F. Kuntz seemed skeptical, saying, “The Wavy Baby might have Wavy Babies, and I think that’s what they’re afraid of. If that wasn’t an issue, I don’t think we’d be here.” He agreed to the restraining order but did not advise when it might be pushed through. Similarly, the Lil Nas X Satan Shoe case wound up with both companies settling, with MSCHF asking customers to voluntarily return their pairs — fat chance — and Nike issuing a statement that any complaints should be directed to MSCHF, not them.