To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, register here.
The first digital sneakers from Nike and Rtfkt have arrived. On Friday, the digital fashion and 3D design studio, which Nike acquired in December, unveiled a collection of co-branded digital sneakers on Discord and Twitter. The shoes, called Nike Cryptokicks, are inspired by the Nike Dunk sneaker and mark the brand’s long-awaited entry into digital apparel.
The sneakers are available to people who own Rtfkt’s Mnlth, a mysterious digital NFT box that was dropped, free of charge, to anyone with a Clone-X in February. (Clone-X is the PFP project that Rtfkt created with artist Takashi Murakami in November.) People could choose to sell their Mnlth NFTs or keep them. Now those who have kept it have been rewarded: they can burn their current Mnlths in exchange for a Mnlth that holds a Cryptokick.
The company will offer eight upgradable “skins” made by Rtfkt to start, which will allow people to customize the sneakers with different looks and designs, similar to a video game skill tree, although evolution mode is not yet enabled, says co-founder Benoit Pagotto, who worked in luxury fashion before founding Rtfkt. Rtfkt plans to open the possibility for creators and partners to create skins. At launch, one of the skins was created by Murakami.
The sneaker community has enthusiastically embraced digital fashion and become a leader in trends including PFPs, Discord communities, and digital collectibles. Rightly, Adidas and Nike have been in competition to keep communities curious and intrigued about the metaverse. The same week that Nike acquired Rtfkt, Adidas unveiled its highly anticipated “Into the Metaverse” NFTs in collaboration with Web3 influencers Gmoney and the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Similar to Rtfkt, Adidas’ strategy is based on the promise of continued future benefits, including access to digital and physical products and events. To that end, Adidas has started developing digital real estate on The Sandbox, and Nike has an ongoing world on Roblox where people can play to earn digital goods.
Nike acquired two-year-old Rtfkt for an undisclosed sum in December, appealing to a small team and a large group of NFT fans. Nike called the platform “next-gen collectibles that merge culture and play” and Nike, Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe said it allowed the company to serve creators at “the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture”.
Nike’s trademarks for Cryptokicks earlier this week provided clues to its future roadmap: it’s trademarked downloadable computer software to use as a cryptocurrency wallet; services for a digital currency asset market; services that provide a digital currency or token for an online community; electronic bulletin board services; blogs in crypto collectibles; online scavenger hunts; and technology that allows members to receive crypto assets.