Nike goes deeper into the metaverse by acquiring virtual sneaker designer RTFKT


Nike takes a new step in the metaverse by acquiring RTFKT Studios, a virtual startup of sneakers and collectibles.

While the deal is already seen by many as a way of saying ‘Just Do It’ in the Web3 era, it will also signal NFT startups and legacy clothing brands that the virtual fashion world will heat up further in 2022. .

Founded in 2019, RTFKT has become increasingly popular with sneaker and Web3 enthusiasts, and gained momentum during the NFT boom that began earlier this year. In February, the startup released several models of virtual sneakers in collaboration with artist Fewocious and quickly made more than $ 3 million in purchases selling more than 600 pairs that can’t even be worn in the physical world. In March, he teamed up with Atari on a limited-edition Atari-themed virtual sneaker. And last month, RTFKT teamed up with artist Takashi Murakami at an NFT auction to sell 20,000 3D avatars that are part of the CloneX collection.

The terms were not disclosed, but Nike President and CEO John Donahoe said in a statement that the agreement “accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and enables us to serve athletes and creators alike. the intersection of sport, creativity, play and culture ”.

“We are acquiring a very talented design team with an authentic and connected brand,” said Donahoe. “Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community, and expand Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities. ”

Nike and rival Adidas have both invested in Web3 topics in recent months. In September, Nike built a Nikeland experience and a virtual showroom inside the popular Roblox game. (Long before that, Jordan Brand collaborated with Fortnite in 2019.) In November, Adidas confirmed a new partnership with Coinbase and the crypto-enabled virtual platform The Sandbox. And earlier this month, Adidas expanded its NFT collaborations by announcing new partnerships with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Punks Comic and Gmoney. Nike has also filed several trademarks and patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office make use of its logo in the form of shoes, clothing, headwear and other virtual products and clothing.

Since RTFKT launched in 2019, co-founders Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev have raised $ 9.5 million, according to Crunchbase, including an $ 8 million funding round with participation from Andreesen Horowtiz and Shrug Capital. . In a joint statement with Nike, Pagotto said that Nike “is the only brand in the world that shares the deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity and community.”

“This is a unique opportunity to grow the RTFKT brand and we are thrilled to benefit from Nike’s fundamental strength and expertise to create the communities we love,” said Pagotto.

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