Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”Matthew 14:25
The Air Max 97 Holy Water is a custom trainer conceived by the minds at MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based creative label. That envokes the miracle of Jesus walking on water. By infusing its midsole with 60cc of Holy Water sourced from the River Jordan and subsequently blessed. Allowing the wearer to also quite literally walk on water. Products don’t get much more gimmicky than this, but as expected the available pairs sold out within minutes for a reported retail price of $1,425. The majority of which are now appearing as listings on popular resale platforms like StockX for up to 8 times the original purchase cost.
This pattern is reoccurring in the footwear world. I’ve spoken too many times about the correlation between exclusivity and sales. Throw in a generous portion of accompanying lore, and the market for the product will almost always emerge. Designs divide opinion, one mans trash is another man’s treasure, but what has to be respected is the craft. The Air Max 97 Holy Water hands a subtle nod to the Vatican. Known for their intricate jewels and traditional red shoes, in response, the custom pair features red insoles that have been scented with Frankincense. As well as also including a steel crucifix on the shoelaces, Matthew 14:25 inscription on the toe box, and a muted water-themed colourway with red accents.
However, this recent offering from MSCHF isn’t the first Nike shoe I have seen imparted with religious scriptures via a carefully placed bible verse. In fact, religious themes are a lot more common in streetwear than perhaps you would have first anticipated. Jerry Lorenzo, the founder of streetwear label Fear Of God, is very open about his faith and the influence it has on his work. The whole concept behind his brand is taken from a devotion he read that talks about clouds and darkness around the Kingdom of God. Introducing to him the idea of God as having layers.
“Not in a demonic way. Just dark in terms of the layers and depth to him. The kind of figure that is beyond our understanding. When you’re at peace with God, there’s a fear of God that’s reverence. But on the flip side, when you don’t know God, there’s a literal fear. So I wanted my brand’s name to play on these two different meanings.”
This spiritual thread seeps into every aspect of his creative process and is physically visible on his debut Nike product the Air Fear Of God 1 with the numbers 10, 24, & 25 engrained on the insole. A reference to his favourite bible verse Joshua 10 24:25, a detail similary deployed on the aforementioned Air Max 97 Holy Water.
When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks. Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”Joshua 10 24:25
I Am A God
An individuals faith can naturally define them as a person, and as an artist. No more so than Ye himself, Kanye West. The visionary streetwear designer, musician, and cultural phenom has often cited The Old Testament as a huge point of reference for a lot of his work. Being quoted in one recent interview saying “The Bible is better than Pinterest”.
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.Leviticus 19:19
A verse he reportedly uses as a teaching tool for his apparel team at Yeezy. In the same interview telling a story from his past about sending a manger he used to work with, a really rude email about how “every time he wore this wool jacket with leather sleeves he set culture back by 10 years.”
Kanye’s faith seems central to everything he puts his name to these days. Notably with his weekly Sunday Service, pretty consistently peaking people’s interest. However sceptical you may feel his motivations behind his actions. Coming from a man who once made a song called “I Am A God”. His participation in his faith looks from the untrained eye more of a cult interaction than an exercise in Religious enlightenment but regardless is now central to his design language.
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