In an ironic turn of events, one of the biggest audience takeaways from a biting critique of capitalism appears to have been a desire to buy shoes. Netflix’s hyperviolent K-drama Squid Game has inspired a massive surge in popularity for the all-white slip-on Vans, prominently featured in the show.
Throughout the nine episodes of the series, we follow a group of 456 debt-ridden citizens who compete in various children’s games in a nondescript auditorium for the chance to win an abundant cash prize. Here the contestants are forced to wear green jumpsuits with their player number on it and a pair of these white Vans on their feet. These basic white shoes are a visualisation of the players being stripped of all individuality and dignity.
In an act of the kind of mindless consumerism that will ultimately land you competing in one of these things, people felt compelled to be wearing the shoes of their favourite television prisoners. As if it wasn’t literally the point that they were the most vanilla shoes the wardrobe department could think of, Vans has seen a 7,800% increase in sales of this particular shoe since the debut of Squid Game on September 17. White slip-on shoes, in general, have seen a 97% uptick in search volume, according to Lyst.
This definitely speaks to the popularity of the show, with Netflix announcing on Tuesday that 111 million people have already sat down to watch the phenomenon themselves – making it the most-watched program in the platform’s history.
A large aspect of the recent interest in the shoe probably comes from people looking for Halloween costumes. Searches for red boiler suits and fencing masks have also spiked by 62% in recent weeks, likely imitating the villainous guards of the show. Others have even opted for the look of the murderous “Red Light, Green Light” doll from the show’s first episode, donning the orange dress, yellow t-shirt, and a pair of knee-high socks.
If it was a pair of plain white sneakers that you were after, there are 19 others that we would recommend before you settle on the Vans. If you are set in your ways, however, you can cop your own pair of the slip-ons for $109.99 by clicking the link below.