New York Fashion Week’s hottest boot trend? Caged rats

woo chatted with the London-based studio creating footwear with model rodents inside

Hero image in post
Hero image in post

woo chatted with the London-based studio creating footwear with model rodents inside

By Darshita Goyal12 Feb 2024
5 mins read time
5 mins read time

Remember 2023’s eccentric animal cameos at glam events? The MET Gala cockroach, the bed bugs at Paris Fashion Week, the lion heads at Schiaparelli? In 2024, odd animals continue to reign supreme in fashion. Beware: it’s not for the mousy or faint hearted but squeaky, scampering, messy rats are everywhere. On the tube, in your backyard (sorry!), on your FYP; it’s a rodent rampage. Thanks to London-based agency Uncommon Creative Studio, rats were also seated front row at New York Fashion Week.

In less than 48 hours, Uncommon’s RATBOOTs – first spotted on day two of the ongoing New York Fashion Week AW24 – have raked in over 94 million views on Instagram. Yep, that’s a lot even for the viral-moment-obsessed online world. So what is a RATBOOT? The thigh-high, buckled leather boots hold a grilled cage at the heel. Not just any cage, either, one specifically designed to house a New York City rat.

“The RATBOOT, hopefully like all good design, is a mix of utility and aesthetic. We thought long and hard about the design process to ensure it’s safe and can easily fit a rat,” Nils Leonard, co-founder of Uncommon Creative Studio, tells woo. “There’s enough room for the rat to move and also a door on the cage for it to go in and out.” Well, a rat in a shoe wasn’t on our bingo card for the year, so if you’re wondering why, where and how much, we asked Leonard all our burning questions.

Thanks for joining in the midst of all the attention that the RATBOOTs are getting. Is it crazy yet?

Leonard: Yeah, we knew it would chime and make some noise, we just didn’t think it would create this much noise. Obviously, the boots were designed to make a statement but we really underestimated how powerful the aesthetic would be. 90 million views the same day as the Super Bowl is kind of crazy; it’s also a super interesting lesson for us in backing our thinking and the way we approach experiences.

Why did you put rats in boots? Tell us everything.

Leonard: At Uncommon, we want to play a part in the wider culture of the world through brands, products and experiences. We recently opened the studio in New York; I run it alongside Sam Shepherd who designed and created the RATBOOTs. We wanted to be a part of the city’s scene and fashion week was coming up, so we decided to create a product that reflects its culture.

There are 8 million people in New York and 4 million rats. There are so many memes about it, you see rats pulling entire slices of pizzas down the stairs. Yet rats are half unspoken things in the city. The boots hope to raise a mirror to people, forcing them to talk about the rats. You either find it thrilling or funny or disgusting but that’s the truth of the city, you’re never more than 6 feet away from a rat. It makes people ask questions about society and isn’t that what all great fashion and art does?

Are your DMs flooded?

Leonard: Oh absolutely. There have been some offers for collaboration from a couple of big brands, many people have asked how much the boots cost and how they can buy them, some people see them as art. We even had a gallery and a museum reach out to showcase them.

The videos of the boots are popping off, someone called them level 10 New York energy. What’s your favourite reaction so far?

Leonard: Yeah they’ve all been really funny actually. But my favourite one was a comment that said “don’t let Kanye see this”. So yeah, if Kanye sees this and wants to buy them, he can reach out.

How much do the RATBOOTs cost?

Leonard: We’re only making one bespoke piece of the RATBOOTs. At the close of fashion week, we’re going to auction them to the highest bidder and put the profits somewhere special.

Have any animal welfare organisations reached out yet?

Leonard: Oh we’ve thought that through – no animals were harmed in the making of the boots. And once more is announced on where the profits will go, you’d see that it all comes together.

What are the design considerations while making boots with rodents inside them?

Leonard: We made sure they weren’t too heavy so you can actually walk in the boots. Every detail from the texture of the leather, the buckles used to the height of the boots were carefully considered and chosen. We even put a light in the cage because the whole point is that the rat is seen and this casts a beautiful shadow of the cage around the bottom of the boot.

Will there be a mouse version of the RATBOOTs for London Fashion week?

Leonard: (laughs) Maybe! We have something exciting planned for London as well, so keep your eyes peeled.

See more of Uncommon Creative Studio’s work on their website.