Home Fashion The strange case of Hermès, Birkenstock and the €62,000 sandals

The strange case of Hermès, Birkenstock and the €62,000 sandals


On the second Monday in February, the Banksys of consumer culture struck again.

MSCHF, the New York collective that created the “Jesus shoe” (Nike sneakers with soles filled with holy water), “88 Holes” (a Damien Hirst spot painting with all the spots cut out and sold separately) and MSCHF X (an “impossible collab” wherein the group chopped up T-shirts from 10 streetwear fashion brands and patchworked them back together) has dropped its latest piece of social-media catnip.

“The most exclusive sandal ever made” is a Birkenstock-like piece of footwear with an official Birkenstock cork-and-rubber sole, but with a leather upper made from purposefully chopped-up Hermès Birkin bags. Shock-horror: fashion sacrilege!

MSCHF’s timing with the product’s release is pretty impeccable. Photograph: MSCHF

If Marcel Duchamp and Tom Sachs had a baby who was raised by Jeremy Scott of Moschino, this is what it might look like. The “Birkinstock” is either a raspberry to the high-end fashion world and its sudden obsession with the outdoor recreation world; a pointed commentary on the cult of the Birkin, which has been labelled a better investment than gold; or a piece of performance art that gives new meaning to Joseph Schumpeter’s concept of creative destruction. There’s a manifesto on the group’s website to go with the shoes, full of high-minded meditations on resources, commodities and luxury.

Or it’s a cynical stunt calculated to break the internet, mocking hypebeast culture and profiting from it at the same time. Maybe all of the above.

“We’re just sort of fascinated with destroying expensive things and creating something new out of them,” said Daniel Greenberg, MSCHF’s 23-year-old head of strategy (not that they are so into titles). In any case, it is sure to put MSCHF, which so far has made more noise in the art-technology-streetwear space, on the high-fashion radar.

They’re trying to move beyond viral jokes into the meta-pop-pundit sphere. The shoes will be made to order and available while supplies last. Which, despite costing between $34,000 and $76,000, or about €28,000 and €62,000, depending on the size of the customer’s foot, will probably not be very long, judging by both history and the availability of the raw material. The Jesus shoes sold out in one minute, the Hirst spots even faster.

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