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The big red rubber boots aren't just a one-off trend

Cartoon boots have been making a splash, and the trend is evidence of even more fantasy blending with reality.
Posted at 8:47 PM, Feb 28, 2023

They're big, red, and rubbery: Meet the latest fashion trend that has influencers, social media and celebrities buzzing.

DiploLil Wayne and Ciara are some of the celebrities who have been spotted wearing the cartoon footwear created by MSCHF, an art collective in Brooklyn.

Steve Natto, a YouTuber and content creator who specializes in all things sneakers, also owns a pair of the boots. 

"It's unlike really anything else I've tried in terms of sneakers or shoes," Natto said. "The top of the shoe, or really the boot, is a little more flexible up here. It can kind of move a little bit with your leg, but the bottom is a little harder that won't crease or bend."

Natto took his new kicks for a spin at a sneaker convention in Philadelphia. He wore them all day and says it's easy to put them on and take them off.

"Walking normal was just a little, you know, different and takes some getting used to, but they were actually surprisingly comfortable," Natto said.

The $350 shoes are currently sold out. Some hopeful buyers offered Natto as much as $1,300 to buy them off his feet, but he's not selling.

Agustina Panzoni, a fashion trend forecaster, predicts consumers will see more of the cartoon world moving into real life — hyper reality where the virtual and real-life merge.

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"In this case, we're seeing the fiction moving into reality and reality into a fiction. I thought it was such a great representation of that in a fashion form," Panzoni said about the boots. "In many ways because of the AI revolution and the impact that it's having on consumers, on society, you know, it's really allowing us to expand our imagination into new realms."

With artificial intelligence continuing to improve in writing, sounding or looking like real humans — take ChatGPT for example — it's no wonder that some humans want to push against the idea of reality. The cartoon trend has gone "somewhat" mainstream, with even Walmart.com selling 2D backpacks.

Panzoni says there's also a rise in digital fashion where items don't have to exist physically, only in the digital space.

"It's creating this idea where you can't really tell what's exactly real and what's not," Panzoni said.

Interested in the MSCHF's boots, but can't get a pair in real life? There's a filter for that.

"Because we exist so much in our digital space, we have kind of this need to brand or to create our online identities, right, so we're seeing consumption of fashion made for that online identity, online persona," Panzoni said.

One thing is for sure: These boots are definitely made for talking — and maybe some walking. 

"It's not something I'm going to wear every day, so I'll bring it out every once in a while," Natto said.