As is often the case with its drops, MSCHF’s latest takes a shot at consumerism with a solid dose of irony.
A range of $40 empty shopping bags from Hermès, Prada, Supreme and others were offered under “OnlyBags.” True to its name, the initiative was meant to be a wind-up, and it also sold out in less than a minute, according to a MSCHF cofounder Daniel Greenberg.
While millions first heard of MSCHF following last year’s massive media blitz, controversy and lawsuits over two-time Grammy winner Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes” — Nike Air Max 97 sneakers that were said to contain drops of blood — the Brooklyn-based group has been at it for a few years. From Greenberg’s view, MSCHF is “an art collective that does various things in different spaces. Some people look at us more as this fashion space and call us the next Off-White. Other people look at us like more this post-modern Pop Art brand. They compare us to a [Andy] Warhol or a Banksy. It’s interesting that everything that we create whether it be digital, physical, whatever, it sort of straddles this line — of art, luxury, fashion, hypebeast, capitalism, social commentary.”
Not about to be pigeonholed by one category, MSCHF delves in fashion, sneakers, collectibles and more. Two years into weekly drops, MSCHF is now a team of 30. The early days boiled down to “a group of us working together to make cool, creative things and just seeing what happened,” Greenberg said. While many brands start with a mission or an attempt to solve a world problem, MSCHF’s approach is more about a couple of friends agreeing “to make some projects on the internet and see what happens,” he said.
Noting how they have been able to create work that “just disseminates without spending on marketing, advertising or any of that stuff,” Rosenberg said, “Our brands, our projects have been seen by hundreds of millions of people.”
As for whether investors are knocking on the door, that really depends. Although a little money has been taken to keep the lights on, “that’s not something that we really focus on. Again, our pursuit is really just to really do cool, wacky things,” Greenberg said.
Like other projects, ”OnlyBags” is meant to democratize the inaccessible, akin to slicing up colorful spots from a Damien Hirst painting and selling them [“Severed Spots” in April 2020], or cutting up clothing and putting it back together, which it has also done. Well aware how everyday people and celebrities use designer shopping bags “as a flex, that’s incredibly inaccessible because you have to go to these stores and spend ‘x’ amount of money on uber-expensive things,” Greenberg said. “For us, it was just this idea of can you just sell essentially the status bags for $40. It’s incredibly cheap, when compared to what you have to spend there, right?”
How do you steal from the rich to give to everyone is often mulled over at MSCHF. For example, another project, “Stolen Stories,” involved ripping Instagram Stories from 100 of the leading restaurants in the country, including Michelin-starred ones. “Anyone could download the Instagram assets for free and then post them to their Instagram Story. Essentially, you looked like you were eating at French Laundry or Eleven Madison Park, or wherever you might be. But in reality you’re just at home in your bed. Again, it was another way to flex without actually spending the money,” Greenberg said.
Comparing MSCHF to performance art for the internet, he emphasized how each person could view its projects differently, just as they might looking at a painting or a sculpture. “OnlyBags”-related media posts today indicate as much, with some stating how spending $40 for a shopping bag is “incredibly f–ked up,” whereas “other people see it as incredibly genius — $40 for the flex,” he said.
Hesitant to be too specific about any upcoming weekly drops, Greenberg said app users can keep up-to-speed with what’s what. Going forward, the plan is to do more larger-than-life, big moment things, as was the case when MSCHF made the sword that Grimes carried to last fall’s Met Gala, Greenberg said. The sword was made from an automatic weapon that had been melted down as part of a MSCHF-led gun buyback program that was designed to get guns off the streets to turn them into swords.
Often asked how MSCHF looks at the success or the metrics of a project, Greenberg said, “In reality, the truth is we just don’t. We make what we think is cool and conceptual. If it takes off, it just happens. We’re very [focused] on quality versus quantity. We make what we make, and let the internet digest it and shape it how they want it.”
As for whether MSCHF will ever work with Lil Nas X again, Greenberg said, “You never know. That was obviously incredibly big and it probably was as big as — not only anything that we’ve ever done — but it probably was the biggest sneaker launch of all-time. Obviously, we’re still friendly with him and his team. But who knows. Obviously, we’re not going to force anything that doesn’t make sense,” he said. “But we want to do something that we can top. That was an incredible moment that is almost hard to beat.”
Looking back, Greenberg said he had anticipated the Satan Shoes would be big, but not to that degree. “It’s us. It’s Nas. It’s a sneaker. It’s controversial,” he said. “We did the ‘Jesus Shoes’ in 2019 [repurposed Nike sneakers that were filled with holy water, which were worn by Drake, Bad Bunny and all these celebrities. It was selling for like five grand…the [Satan Shoes] somehow eclipsed that and just became as big as ever.”