Nike submitted trademark applications in October as part of its plans to sell virtual sneakers and gear, according to CNBC. Now, the footwear and sports apparel behemoth has acquired RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”), a startup that will aid the company’s “digital transformation.” RTFKT was founded in early 2020 and has since made a name for itself by designing and creating what it refers to as “Metaverse-ready sneakers and collectibles” — all digital goods that people pay real money for.
The market for virtual goods is thriving, and it is expected to expand further as we move closer to the metaverse, a future vision for the internet in which people can interact in a virtual world with digital avatars. To that end, it appears that Nike has big plans for RTFKT and its team, which will be joining the company.
Nike’s President and CEO, John Donahoe, stated: “We are acquiring a very talented team of creators with a genuine and connected brand. Our strategy is to invest in the RTFKT brand, to serve and grow their innovative and creative community, and to broaden Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.”
The startup stated on Twitter that it “will continue to evolve [its] brand, innovations, products, and community with Nike resources and talents.”
RTFKT collaborated with 18-year-old artist Fewocious earlier this year to release three NFT sneakers for $3,000, $5,000, and $10,000. Over 600 people purchased their own virtual pairs for a total of US$3.1 million in just seven minutes. Recently, the startup unveiled CloneX, an avatar-like project created in collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. CloneX is RTFKT’s “most ambitious project yet,” as it marks the start of an ecosystem for its Metaverse-ready avatars.
RTFKT is now a part of the NIKE, Inc. family. 🌐👁🗨 pic.twitter.com/5egNk9d8wA
— RTFKT Studios (@RTFKTstudios) December 13, 2021