Nike Acquires Virtual Sneaker & Collectibles Startup RTFKT

Nike had a big announcement Monday afternoon, sharing the acquisition of RTFKT – creators of virtual sneakers and collectibles that merge realities in fashion and gaming.

The sportswear giant goes deeper into metaverse fashion, a growing trend among brands.

"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," Nike president and CEO John Donahoe said in a release. "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."

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but it's not unprecedented for Nike.

In late October the corporation filed for a number of "virtual goods" patents with the United States Patent & Trademark Office, almost a year after securing a patent for "CryptoKicks" in Dec. 2019. Nike also launched NIKELAND, its own immersive virtual world on Roblox, on Nov. 18.

Founded in 2019 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev, the virtual sneaker startup got increasingly popular during the 2021 NFT boom, with its most recognizable project coming in collaboration with CryptoPunks to release 10,000 sneaker NFTs individual to each Punk.

"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," Pagotto said in the statement. "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."

German sportswear rival Adidas has made somewhat similar moves, partnering with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Punks Comic, notable NFT collector Gmoney and crypto wallet Coinbase. It also bought virtual land in The Sandbox.

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