Over the past few months, apparel company Nike has been inching towards the metaverse. Towards the end of October, the brand filed several trademark applications aimed towards the virtual space, and even posted job openings for virtual design roles.
Things have only ramped up since then, as the clothing giant announced its purchase of virtual sneaker and collectible company RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”) on Monday.
“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,” says John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike. “We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand. 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.”
RTFKT is now a part of the NIKE, Inc. family. pic.twitter.com/5egNk9d8wA
— RTFKT Studios (@RTFKTstudios) December 13, 2021
RTFKT started in Jan 2020 on the metaverse and has made already made some successful headway in fusing physical apparel with the digital world. It claims that a February collaboration with teenage artist FEWOCiOUS to sell real sneakers paired with virtual ones managed to sell around 600 pairs in under 10 minutes, bringing in over $3.1 million at the time. The startup is also in collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami in an NFT project called CloneX.
The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. In May, RTFKT raised an $8 million seed round that valued the company at $33.3 million.
“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,” says Benoit Pagotto, one of RTFKT’s co-founders. “Nike is the only brand in the world that shares the deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity and community, and we’re excited to grow our brand which was fully formed in the metaverse.”