“Nike is the only brand in the world that shares the deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity and community, and we’re excited to grow our brand which was fully formed in the metaverse.”Benoit Pagotto, one of RTFKT’s co-founders
Nike had recently announced its acquisition of RTFKT (pronounced ‘artifact’), a leading design studio in the NFT space producing next-generation sneakers and collectibles in the metaverse.
What is RTFKT?
RTFKT, founded by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev in January 2020, leverages on in-game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality, to create one of a kind sneakers and digital artifacts.
Recently, the company released a collection of avatars (named CloneX) with pop culture icon, Takashi Murakami, that can be used in games and augmented reality applications.
In the past, RTFKT had also worked with popular crypto artist FEWOCiOUS on a virtual sneaker project that sold out in under seven minutes.
How does the acquisition benefit Nike?
For more context, at only two years old, RTFKT is the youngest brand in Nike’s roster of acquisitions, which otherwise includes only other legacy footwear brands such as Converse and Jordan. Nike must have seen value for them to make a move never made before.
With news of other companies making bold moves in the metaverse, such as Facebook rebranding as Meta, it was only a matter of time before fashion brands that leverage on the hype of non-fungible collectibles, follow suit. Fashion brands also have the potential to sell NFTs in exchange for both original and physical goods.
While Nike’s integration into the metaverse might have seemed recent, Nike had thought about NFTs as far back as 2019.
The company had obtained a patent for blockchain-compatible sneakers known as “CryptoKicks” and the purpose behind the patent was to give buyers a digital version of the physical shoes they purchase. By purchasing RTFKT, Nike looks to be one step closer to delivering on this vision of its metaverse.
In 2017, Nike also applied for a patent that would allow buyers to print digital footwear at home. A play that was years away in implementation can now be considered the first step towards bringing its digital products to reality.
Nike has long understood that acquisition is a faster road to learning after absorbing tech companies like Grabit, for warehouse improvement, and Invertex and Datalogue for data.
The acquisition of RTFKT gives RTFKT the funding to do further development in the metaverse as well as help Nike increase its own production of virtual wearables without having to rely on third party companies.
“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 CEO and president John Donahoe.
“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.”
This news actually comes after Nike has trademarked the use of its logos and slogans for virtual wearables as well as the launch of its own virtual world within the popular online game Roblox, where players are able to purchase cosmetics items for their avatars.
With other fashion brands such Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga rapidly entering the metaverse space, it is wise for Nike to take advantage of its presence and early adoption of metaverse related technologies and companies to gain a bigger share of the virtual wearables and collectibles market.
This acquisition by Nike will definitely prove to be significant in the long run as we see the world conform to the possibilities of the metaverse.
Featured Image Credit: Chain Debrief