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Gif showing Nike, Jordan and Converse logos with RTFKT logo appearing next to them

Nike gets "metaverse-ready" with acquisition of virtual sneaker company RTFKT

Sportswear brand Nike has announced its acquisition of RTFKT, a digital design studio producing trainers and other collectibles that can be worn across different online environments.

Buying RTFKT could help Nike ramp up its own production of virtual wearables without having to rely on outside help. RTFKT's products include neon-coloured platforms that it created with The Fabricant.

At the same time, Nike is hoping to provide the start-up with the funding to further explore the possibilities presented by the metaverse, the emerging digital universe where people can experience a parallel life to their real-world existence.

Digital renaissance trainers by The Fabricant and RTFKT
Top image: RTFKT joins Jordan and Converse in Nike's stable of brands. Above: virtual trainers created with The Fabricant

"This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike's digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture," said Nike CEO and president John Donahoe.

"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."

The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

RTFKT, which was founded by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev in January 2020, creates "metaverse-ready sneakers and collectibles" with the aim of bringing the scarcity culture of streetwear and limited-edition drops to the digital world.


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The Fabricant x RTFKT trainer was sold as an NFT

"Since we started, we always looked up to Nike, with the goal to create the Nike born on the metaverse," Pagotto tweeted.

So far, the company has released a virtual sneaker in collaboration with crypto artist FEWOCiOUS that sold out in just under seven minutes, as well as working with artist Takashi Murakami to create a series of rare avatars that can be used across games and augmented reality applications.

Unlike the virtual trainers released by Gucci and Buffalo London earlier this year, which are not truly owned by the buyer as they cannot be sold on, each RTFKT product is backed by a non-fungible token (NFTs).

This blockchain-based certificate of ownership is linked to a digital asset to verify its authenticity and chain of custody, meaning that it can be collected, traded and sold on for profit, much like a real trainer.


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A post shared by RTFKT Studios (@rtfktstudios)

RTFKT has created avatars in collaboration with Takashi Murakami

At only two years old, RTFKT is the youngest brand in Nike's roster, which otherwise includes only other legacy footwear brands such as Converse and Jordan.

The news comes after Nike trademarked the use of its logos and slogans for digital wearables last month and launched its own virtual Nikeland world within the online game Roblox, where players could buy branded products for their avatars.

A slew of other fashion brands has begun investing in the metaverse including Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, both of which have released video games to supplement their real-life catwalk shows.