'Illegal Merch': MSCHF, the Company Behind Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes, Is Trying to Get Cease-and-Desists Over Shirts
We don't often think of branded merchandise as antagonistic. But, MSCHF—the art collective behind those Lil Nas X Satan Shoes that irked Nike—is back with a line of apparel specifically designed to illicit cease-and-desist letters.
The line of "illegal merch" (as MSCHF called it in a FAQ) features long-sleeve shirts, modeled after motorsport tops, with the MSCHF logo on the collar and upper left-chest. Here's where the "illegal" part comes in: Each shirt also features a logo from one of eight major brands, including Walmart, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Disney, Tesla and Subway.
The idea of a race tee is actually pretty clever. MSCHF named the "event" the "Cease & Desist Grand Prix," and fans had to race the clock and buy the shirt featuring the brand they thought would be the first to cave and take legal action.
If they "win," according to Sourcing Journal, the customer will receive a special MSCHF hat modeled after the one Formula 1 drivers wear on the podium, as well as the shirt they ordered before the hammer of justice came down on them.
The shirts are all sold out, so now it's just up to the brands in question to either play the game or leave MSCHF fans waiting. Subway actually responded, but not with a cease and desist. The brand tweeted an image of MSCHF's shirt but with the logos reversed so that MSCHF's was front and center:
— Subway® (@SUBWAY) January 25, 2022
To its credit, MSCHF says it will comply with any cease-and-desist it receives.
"Rest assured, dearest corporate lawyers, we will comply with any C&D's we get," the company said, according to Sourcing Journal. "Independent creators can never fight real legal action with a corporation: they can't afford it. Thus copyright falls into that category in which 'if the penalty for a crime is monetary, that law exists only for the lower class.'"
According to MSCHF's site, Subway did eventually play ball and send a cease-and-desist in addition to the funny tweet. On the drop's page, the Subway shirt is now censored, but the rest are still visible, even though they're sold out, with a prompt to goad the brand on Twitter so they can finally finish the race.
At the end of the day, the shirts might be (illegally) advertising corporate America. But really this is a promotional campaign for independent artists and awareness over the struggles of the modern creator.