A common comparison I’ve heard over the past year is that NFTs are bought to “flex” on other people in the metaverse. Now, Nike seems to be trying to prepare for that literal version.
The apparel giant just announced that it has acquired RTFKT Studios ,, which it describes as “a leading brand that leverages top-notch innovation to deliver next-generation collectibles that combine culture and gaming.” HTML3_ HTML3_
RTFKT claims that in February, a collaboration with teenage artist FEWOCiOUS to sell real sneakers paired with virtual ones managed to sell some 600 pairs/NFTs in just six minutes, netting over $3.1 million at the time. This was in the spring when many of us first heard about NFTs. Grimes sold $6 million worth digital artwork on March 1_ . It’s not clear if any of these digital items are worth as much now; looking at OpenSea and Nifty Gateway right now, I see a number of them are either listed for or have recently sold for less than their original prices.
But forget the past — and that time it photoshopped a pair of its sneakers onto Elon Musk — RTFKT is moving forward, and just yesterday the A16Z-backed startup launched the Clone X NFT collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, offering up a number of metaverse-ready digital avatars styled with various collectible traits.
The company’s website asks visitors immediately to link their Metamask wallets. This is one way NFT owners can verify purchases. It also suggests that you might play games or enter VR spaces where items can materialize. Once those spaces have read and understood the blockchain, they will be able to determine which items you are entitled to.
This vision is what Nike is investing in. It credits Benoit Pagotto and Chris Le with using “the most recent in game engines and NFTs to create unique virtual products and experiences.”
While announcing the deal — without revealing how much it spent — Nike positioned RTFKT’s lightning bolt-style logo alongside its own iconic swoosh, Jumpman, and Converse marks. These brands have a long history built on distinctive designs and high-level endorsements from athletes. RTFKT, meanwhile, was founded in January 2020. It says that “the human development in consciousness has accelerated faster than anticipated. We are here to accelerate digital future .”