The shoe and apparel giant has acquired RTFKT, a non-fungible token studio with a collection that includes virtual sneaker collectibles. Only time will tell if the acquisition was related to Nike’s various NFT and crypto-related patents last month.
Nike has made its most aggressive move into the blockchain and the Metaverse space by acquiring the digital collectibles platform RTFKT. The shoemaker announced it had acquired the virtual sneaker design company and a studio for non-fungible tokens. Nike President and CEO John Donahoe said in a press release:
“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.”
Sneakers designed around CryptoPunks
RTFKT Studio was founded in 2020 to create virtual sneaker designs for use in online games and, now, the Metaverse. The group provided designs for game companies and fashion designers before moving into NFT (or “cryptocollectible”) designs last year.
According to the marketplace OpenSea website, the group’s OpenSea page says that RTFKT has 561 NFTs in its collection and has created at least 1000 others. Its most notable series is a line of virtual sneakers designed around CryptoPunks, one of which sold for 3.2 ETH (over $12,000) today. Explaining that it would continue to expand its image under Nike, RTFKT said on Twitter:
“NIKE is the only brand in the world we always looked up to and got inspired by when starting RTFKT.”
Nike has always been our inspiration
This acquisition moves Nike more firmly into blockchain-based branding and the Metaverse, a version of the internet that will blend virtual and augmented reality with traditional computing. Last year, the firm launched NIKELAND in partnership with Roblox for an immersive 3D world. That same month, Nike submitted four filing requests to trademark virtual goods with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Nike is playing catch-up with Rival shoemaker Adidas, which announced its entry into the Metaverse earlier this month in partnership with Bored Ape creators Yuga Labs. Adidas recently purchased a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT for 46 ETH or just over $156,000 at the time. RTFKT co-founder Chris Le said on Twitter:
“When we first started, we had fun designing sneakers inspired by video games and making dope content and always trying to innovate […] Nike has always been our inspiration. This is the start of a new chapter in the RTFKT story.”