How Red Wings Collaborated With Nintendo To Make Mario’s Real World Shoes

Nintendo ended a recent live stream sharing the final trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie with a strange and unexpected announcement. Alongside animation studio Illumination, it had teamed up with Red Wing Shoes to make Mario’s shoes from the movie, not as a line of shoes for sale, but rather a hyper-realistic version of the boots – odd proportions and all – to be displayed at the official Nintendo Store in New York City.

The interest in Mario’s shoes began with the movie’s first teaser poster, where the fidelity of Mario’s footwear blew fans away. People wanted to know more about them, which led Nintendo and Illumination to contact Red Wing Shoes, a Minnesota company specializing in work boots, about making some. “We got the call, and naturally, we’re like, ‘Well, Mario is the world’s most iconic and beloved plumber. Alright, let’s figure out a way to do this,” Aaron Seymour-Anderson, Red Wing’s head of brand and creative, told us on a Zoom call.

From the beginning, the shoes were always meant as a display piece fully acknowledging Mario’s odd proportions, and Red Wing only made one pair. “I think the official stance is Mario doesn’t want to share his boots with anyone else,” Seymour-Anderson says. “Even Luigi doesn’t get a pair yet.”

The shoes were designed, built, and stitched by hand in a few months. The most complicated part for Red Wing was creating a shoe not based on a human foot. Ironically, the first thing made in shoe design is called the Last, which is the shape of the foot the shoe is molded around. For Mario’s Last, the Red Wing Team had to get the exact proportions from the animation model and 3D print it, sand it down, and then mold and stitch the leather around it, which was handled by Mike Larson, the product development lead. “A foot normally is much longer than it is wide; this was much more like an oval or nearly a square with some rounded edges,” Seymour-Anderson says.

Every detail about the shoe is exactly how it appears in the film, down to the bottom. “The outsole matches the exact tread pattern that Mario wears and was affixed to the bottom of the shoe,” Seymour-Anderson tells us.

As far as what happens to Mario’s shoes now that the movie is out, Seymour-Anderson says it’s up to Nintendo. “Don’t expect this to be the only story you hear about Mario’s boots. Hopefully, there’ll be more stories about Mario’s boots popping up in the future.”

This article originally appeared in Issue 355 of Game Informer.

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