Nike Buys Virtual Shoe Maker

Nike sneakers take the next step in the emerging metaverse.
RKT released a seven-piece digital collection in collaboration with The Fabricant digital-only fashion house earlier this year. Image credit: The Fabricant

Nike’s next major metaverse move includes acquiring digital collectible startup RTFKT.

Founded by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev, RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”) leverages blockchain and augmented reality to create digital sneakers and other artifacts for the metaverse. The group initially operated as an undefined collective, according to its website, supplying game companies and a handful of fashion brands with designs and concepts.

It formalized operations in 2020 and went on to receive backing from such investors as Andreessen Horowitz, VaynerFund and Adrian Cheng.

Companies are still exploring the potential of the metaverse to see what makes sense for their brands — a landscape that’s pegged by Bloomberg Intelligence to become an $800 billion market by 2024.

[See also: Coca-Cola & Campbell's Join Brands Experimenting With NFTs and the Metaverse]

This has included experimenting with NFTs and delving more deeply into the gaming communities. Nike has been a front-runner in the space, opening a digital showroom in Roblox last month and making headlines for filing to trademark virtual goods for its brand.

[See also: Geoffrey the Giraffe of Toys"R"Us Joins the Blockchain]

RTFKT’s items are geared toward gamers and creators, with customers able to purchase items using Ethereum cryptocurrency. Nike views the acquisition as another step in its digital transformation, president and CEO John Donohoe said, meeting at the “intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture.”

The footwear and apparel brand and retailer, which is the No. 10 publicly owned consumer goods company, intends to invest in the RTFKT brand to extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities. Terms of the teal weren’t disclosed.

Pagotto described Nike as the only brand that shares RTFKT’s deep passion for innovation, creativity and community.

“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,” he said in a statement, adding on Twitter that RTFKT’s goal since its founding has been to create the "Nike born on the Metaverse."

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