The sneakers, a pair of Nike Air Max 97s injected with holy water derived from the Jordan River in the Middle East and adorned with a steel crucifix, are by creative label MSCHF. Head of commerce Daniel Greenberg, 22, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that an August brainstorm meeting on brand partnerships, including one between Adidas-Arizona, produced the winning idea.
“I said, ‘What would a collab look like with Jesus Christ?” Greenberg tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “You could say Jesus is the most influential person of all time.”
The premium price may not faze true sneaker fans — Bergdorf Goodman sells Jimmy Choo “Diamond Crystal-Embellished Metallic Sneakers” for $3,995, and Dior is selling high-top sneakers for $1,100.
MSCHF employees pitched different shoe concepts — sneakers with a holy nail and fake blood and a modern upgrade on the classic “Jandal” (Jesus sandal) trend. But the idea of “walking on water” won out. “We weren’t making a religious statement, but more saying, ‘Hey, collab culture is getting out of hand,’” says Greenberg.
The team decided to use Air Max 97s, Greenberg’s daily shoe (although the product has no association with Nike), and inject holy water into the midsole, the cushioned part of a sneaker. But engineering required innovation. Fortunately, Greenberg has a friend living in Israel, who agreed to retrieve one gallon of water from the Jordan River — where, per Christian tradition, Jesus was baptized — and ship it to New York.
Walk on water while blessing your kick game with the exclusive all white Nike Air Max 97 MSCHF x INRI Jesus Shoes.
Shop the sneakers on StockX: https://t.co/ulGquMQIPm pic.twitter.com/npejhQ3Lrs
— StockX Sneakers (@StockXSneakers) October 8, 2019
Greenberg and his colleagues also called a priest to the office to bless the water. “He didn’t have any issue with it, but sort of laughed at our weird request,” he says. The water was mixed with blue dye for realism and red soles to reflect the shoe color worn by the Pope. The inserts are also scented with the resin frankincense, one of three gifts presented to baby Jesus.
And the ungodly price? It’s a play on Matthew 14:25, which describes Jesus walking on water. (The shoes are also available on retail site Stock X for around $3,000).
The completed product was sent to a handful of Instagram influencers and rapper A$AP Rocky, but Greenberg believes they went viral due to “sneaker heads” obsessively following the product tease online. The shoes went on sale at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and all two dozen pairs were sold out by 11:01 a.m.
Greenberg, who dropped out of college after his freshmen year and is now studying two days a week at New York University while working full-time at MSCHF, tells Yahoo Lifestyle while rushing to class, “We’re not a shoe company and we did not believe many would buy these or pay freaking $1,425.”
Now MSCHF, which Greenberg says is “the anti, anti company,” plans to introduce new concepts on every second and fourth Tuesday. When pressed for details, he teased, “an app, a weird exponential thing about streaming wars, and weed paraphernalia.”