Nike Acquires NFT Collectibles Studio RTFKT
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When even major brands are setting themselves up for the Metaverse with NFT traction, you know they understand their customers.
So what is RTFKT? One of RTFKT’s flagship products is a hybrid NFT/physical shoe collectible inspired by the legendary CryptoPunks NFT collection, and the project attracted headlines in March when a digital footwear collaboration with prolific non-fungible token artist FEWOCiOUS sold $3.1 million in metaverse kicks.
Additionally Nike has filed seven trademark applications as it prepares to enter the metaverse. Companies who are investing in NFTs understand young people and young artists are very bullish about them.
“This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture,” Nike President John Donahoe wrote in a blog post. “We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand. Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.”
NFT studio RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”) is an interesting acquisition and shows just how mainstream crypto is becoming.
Recently 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. It’s not yet entirely clear how much is hype about NFTs or if this is a sustainable trend of how virtual products will be worth a lot in the future.
Major Brands are Staking out Their Place on the Metaverse
The startup raised an $8 million seed round back in May led by Andreessen Horowitz that valued the company at $33.3 million.
Companies and brands are staking out their territory on the Metaverse. Think about it, the company’s website immediately asks visitors to link their Metamask wallets, which is one of the ways NFT owners can verify their purchases, with the idea that at some point in the future you’ll play games or enter other sorts of VR spaces where your items can materialize, once those spaces have read the blockchain to assess which items you own the rights to.
Part of it is also just keeping up with the times. Earlier this month, Adidas announced a partnership with NFT project Bored Apes Yacht Club.
The new normal is a world where brands must leverage “the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to create one of a kind virtual products and experiences to be attuned to their customers. This is Nike being customer-centric as the metaverse launches in 2022.
Metaverse fashion is also a rapidly expanding sector. A rival NFT streetwear project, Cryptokickers, signed a first-ever digital shoe deal with former National Basketball Association star Wilson Chandler in April. Metaverse fashion? You heard that right.
In addition to building out its own NFT drops, RTFKT had collaborated with other crypto creators to design items like physical shoes that utilized imagery in other NFT projects, including CryptoPunks and Bored Apes.
People familiar with Nike’s plans said the space is a priority for the brand and consumers can expect to see more virtual rollouts in the months ahead. The Oregon-based company has filed several new trademarks this week that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual Nike-branded sneakers and apparel.
What can I say? Welcome to the Metaverse Nike!