Nike Acquires Virtual Fashion Start-Up RTFKT
Nike just did it! After being granted a patent for “CryptoKicks,” a system for releasing digital footwear that linked physical shoes with virtual versions that could be sold, traded or stored in an online blockchain locker; envisioning the potential for breeding digital shoes to create shoe offspring whose origin would be tracked on a blockchain; building “Nikeland”, a virtual showroom on gaming platform Roblox where Nike fans can dress their avatars in virtual apparel; and filing trademarks and patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to have its logo used in virtual footwear, apparel, headwear and other products, the sportswear giant is continuing to expand its growth in the metaverse by acquiring virtual marketplace RTFKT.
Although the terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, the acquisition marks Nike’s next step in its foray into the metaverse. Founded in 2020, RTFKT works with game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to create products that live at the nexus between fashion and gaming.
Nike President and CEO John Donahoe revealed in a statement that “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. 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.”
Since launching RTFKT in 2019, cofounders Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev grew it as a creator led organisation which uses the latest in gaming, NFT, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to create one of a kind digital sneakers and artefacts with cutting edge of technology. It made headlines when it reportedly raised $9.5 million — including an $8 million seed round with participation by Andreessen Horowitz that valued the company at $33.3 million.
This acquisition comes at a favourable time for the virtual studio; RTFKT has been in the news for one of the most talked-about NFT project drops in recent times, CloneX, an avatar partnership with celebrated artist Takashi Murakami. Since its initial drop, the project has reportedly seen $65 million in transaction volume, per crypto tracker CryptoSlam. Why Nike? In a formal statement, Benoit Pagotto, said, “This is a unique opportunity to build the RTFKT brand and we are excited to benefit from Nike’s foundational strength and expertise to build the communities we love.”
I worked with Condenast India as Digital Editor and launched Vogue India’s portal. Four years later, I turned entrepreneur and launched my luxury portal www.explosivefashion.in. Perhaps it’s my vision and exclusive content that’s placed Explosive Fashion at the forefront of luxury: reporting from fashion weeks, collaborating with luxury brands, presenting royal families’ vision, championing talent, reviewing hotels and restaurants, writing on travel, heritage. My editorial is of a storyteller, the story of the person behind the brand.