Fun with Footwear

When it comes to adult-skewing lifestyle collaborations with entertainment properties, footwear is a frequent area of focus. Recently, a very small but high-profile handful of in-world footwear initiatives have taken this phenomenon to the next level, attracting significant attention among fans and the media:

  • Red Wing Shoes paired with Nintendo for a real-life version of Super Mario’s boots, in a tie-in to support The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which releases April 5. Unlike the other examples cited here, this is (so far) a one-off pair of footwear—described as a prototype—for display only in Nintendo’s New York flagship store, rather than a wearable item for sale. The company used its legacy manufacturing processes, along with modern mushroom-infused materials in keeping with the fact that mushrooms play a key role in the game and franchise. The shoes and a making-of video debuted on March 10 (MAR10 Day) and have attracted crowds and lots of publicity. Red Wing’s participation helps emphasize its positioning as a provider of quality footwear for workers in the trades—Mario being a plumber—as well as an on-trend footwear choice for gaming and pop-culture aficionados.
  • MSCHF Sneakers, a sub-label of the art collective MSCHF, created a pair of red Astro Boy boots, which debuted on February 16 after leaking first online. Like the Mario boots, these have generated abundant publicity, but they are also wearable and sell for $350. In fact, there have been a number of recent sightings of celebrities wearing the product in performances, at parties, or during other events. While these boots clearly mimic Astro Boy’s footwear, and have been covered as such in the press and on social media, the rain boot-like product is officially called the Big Red Boot and there is no mention of a license with Astro Boy owner Tezuka Productions.
  • In an earlier example, Reebok released a tie-in with two entertainment properties, Netflix’s Stranger Things and Sony’s Ghostbusters, in 2017, in conjunction with the premiere of Stranger Things’ second season. In the show, some of the characters dress in DIY Ghostbusters outfits, with one of them, Dustin, creating a pair of handmade Ghostbusters Reeboks by drawing his own red-and-black Ghostbusters logo and phrasing on a pair of white Reebok Ex-O-Fit sneakers. The film was number one at the box office during the 1984 time period depicted in the series. Dustin’s shoe was replicated in real-life form by Reebok, Netflix, and Sony, along with clothing retailer BAIT and Ghost Corps, which oversees Ghostbusters brand extensions. BAIT initially sold the limited-edition Ex-O-Fit Vintage Hi Dustin (priced at $140) exclusively in its shops, with select Reebok stores and a handful of trendy boutiques around the world distributing them for a limited time thereafter.

While not an in-world product per se, another recent example of a fun, out-there character collaboration, which is as much promotion as product, is a pair of boots included as part of designer Christian Cowan’s collaboration with the Teletubbies, announced earlier this month and licensed by Wildbrain CPLG. One of the items is a pair of tall, slim boots with high heels and a side zip in a chartreuse hue. Just below the knee is a large, three-dimensional torso (head and arms) of the green Teletubby, Dipsy. The capsule, which also includes a t-shirt, hoodie, pair of jeans, and denim jacket, all with screen-printed graphics, is available through Cowan’s boutique and its online shop for prices mostly ranging from $195 to $595 (the t-shirt and hoodie are sold out). The $2,500 Dipsy Boots are available only by pre-order.

A reminder that Raugust Communications’ latest monthly e-newsletter comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. The Licensing Topic of the Month offers an analysis of recent developments in resale programs, as part of broader sustainability efforts. The Datapoint research spotlight takes a look at an aspect of licensing in the toy industry. If you do not yet receive this free publication in your inbox every Monday and Thursday, you can subscribe here.

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