Perhaps in an attempt to top his warped Converse Chuck 70 collaboration, Rick Owens has debuted a high-top sneaker covered in Grinch-like hair. A variation of the designer’s Phlegethon model, the shoes look like a taller — and furrier — version of Converse’s classic kicks, which Owens has admitted he references in many of his own designs thanks to the sneakers’ ties to punk rock and experimentation.
But Owens doesn’t need the Nike-backed company to explore bold ideas: He’s been known to pack his shows with shock value and reveal designs as daring as they are expensive. Owens most likely considers his newest sneakers as just another everyday pair, though consumers may want to save the shoes for a holiday party or a stroll down Sesame Street.
The devil is in the details — The inspiration behind the sneakers, however, is more sinister than kids’ entertainment: They debuted as part of Owens’ Spring 2021 collection, named Phlegethon after one of the five rivers of the Underworld in Greek mythology (and the river of blood in Dante’s Divine Comedy). Expanding on his continual theme of darkness, Owens wanted to convey a sense of hell on Earth with his dystopian designs — monster sneakers included.
Taking after the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star, the high-top sneaker features familiar details like a rubber toe cap and two eyelets above the medial sole unit. But in typical Owens fashion, proportions have been super-sized to add a warped look to the shoe, while a medial zip-up closure maintains his utilitarian style.
Advancing the monstrous theme, the sneaker’s leather upper comes fully dressed in dark green calf-hair. With a few inches of length, the hair could be styled — braids, waves, and mini mohawks are all feasible if the wearer is willing to change the texture of their Phlegethon shoes. In reference to Owen’s demonic inspiration, the furry upper could even be styled to bear devil horns.
Luxe locks — Despite their taxidermied look, the leather and calf hair sneakers aren’t cheap. Their Rick Owens name and Italian production will cost you a whopping $1,250 — a monster price for a monster shoe. At least you won’t have to sell your soul for the sneakers, which you can easily find on SSENSE.