Published on December 15th, 2021 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Nike Bought a Virtual Shoe Company That Makes NFTs and Sneakers ‘for the Metaverse’
It’s going to be difficult for the person on the street to wrap his/her head around the idea of digital ownership of, well, anything. “So, I buy a computer file, like a .jpg and it is uniquely mine? I can’t just duplicate with Command-D?” This post about Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT by Alex Heath at The Verge is just a glimpse of the future of NFTs and the ownership of virtual things. All businesses will need to delve into this mode of commerce because their products may need to be offered in digital versions. The consequences of an active NFT-based marketplace, even on the environment, are still unknown and will unfold as we all start shopping for virtual sneakers.
RTFKT makes shoes too, except these only exist digitally
One comparison I’ve heard repeatedly over the last year is that buying NFTs to “flex” on people in the metaverse is just like collecting sneakers, and now Nike is apparently trying to make sure it’s ready for the literal version of that possibility. The apparel giant just announced the acquisition of RTFKT Studios, which it calls “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.”
RTFKT claims that in February, a collaboration with teenage artist FEWOCiOUS to sell real sneakers paired with virtual ones managed to sell some 600 pairs/NFTs in just six minutes, netting over $3.1 million at the time. This was around the same early spring period when most of us were hearing about NFTs for the first time, as Grimes sold some $6 million worth of digital artwork on March 1st. It’s not clear if any of these digital items are worth as much now; looking at OpenSea and Nifty Gateway right now, I see a number of them are either listed for or have recently sold for less than their original prices.
But forget the past — and that time it photoshopped a pair of its sneakers onto Elon Musk — RTFKT is moving forward, and just yesterday 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.
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.