Vans is suing MSCHF over its warped ‘Wavy Baby’ sneaker

MSCHF argues, “the Wavy Baby is transformational above and beyond anything Vans would ever attempt.”

MSCHF "Wavy Baby" sneaker

Vans and its parent company VF Corp. weren’t too happy about MSCHF’s Old Skool lookalike sneaker, the “Wavy Baby,” that unveiled this week. Almost a year to the date since Nike’s lawsuit against MSCHF, the Brooklyn collective is headed back to the courthouse after Vans has filed its own suit.

MSCHF has been accused of “recently [embarking] on a campaign to piggy-back on Vans’ rights and the goodwill it has developed in its iconic shoes,” in the 57-page lawsuit. Vans sent cease-and-desist letters to MSCHF and Tyga, the shoes’ celebrity cosigner (though he’s not a defendant in the case), to no avail. Prior to filing suit, Vans had asked for half of the profits and four pairs for itself if MSCHF were to go forward with the release.

The Fashion Law

because MSCHF denied Vans’ attempts to settle, the skate brand is seeking “monetary damages” if the sneakers are released and a court order “barring MSCHF and any related entities from advertising and offering up footwear that infringes its trademark.”

Up to no good — MSCHF, known for its boundary-pushing antics, revealed a sneaker this week that takes on a strong resemblance to the Vans Old Skool skate shoe. The lawsuit outlines the similarities between the two, including the side stripe, rubberized soles, the sidewall’s grooved appearance, a textured toe box, visible stitching, and the placement and proportion of these elements in relation to one another.

Although MSCHF’s “Wavy Baby” looks like it was the result of too much Photoshop — the entire shoe takes on a warped, wobbly construction — it does have almost all of the distinguishable features of Vans’ Old Skool. Additional details including the waffle sole, red heel tab, and shoebox can be easily linked to the iconic skate shoe.

In the lawsuit, Vans alleges that MSCHF “skip[ped] the significant investments required to develop original, authentic, and high-quality shoes, and instead chose to free-ride off Vans’ reputation and popularity.” It also argues that allowing the “Wavy Baby” to enter the market only creates confusion for consumers, especially since the brand has a Vans Custom program in place that lets shoppers customize their own sneakers.

The Fashion Law
The Fashion Law

While Vans has made it clear it wants nothing to do with MSCHF’s stunts, the brand also derided what it calls misleading information in the latter’s campaign. While MSCHF’s imagery depicts individuals with skateboards and skatewear, the “Wavy Baby” has a clear disclaimer that it’s not responsible for any injuries that occur from the wearer “having [their] foot in the shoe.”

MSCHF strikes back — On Thursday, MSCHF co-founder Daniel Greenberg released a statement clapping back at the skate company. “Standard shoe industry practice is: steal a sole, steal an upper, change a symbol,” Greenberg said. “What a boring use of cultural material. Wavy Baby is a complete distortion of an entire object that is itself a symbol.”

Greenberg also called out Vans for “hiding behind its past heritage as a ‘creative youth brand,’” noting that none of its sneakers has gotten this much pre-release attention in 50 years. Not to be deterred by legal action, MSCHF Sneakers says the “Wavy Baby” release is still planned for its release on Monday.