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Nike Acquires RTFKT, Pushing Further Into Digital Fashion

Nike Acquires RTFKT, Pushing Further Into Digital Fashion

Nike’s acquisition of the virtual fashion start-up further validates the growing Metaverse & digital merchandise

Nike, Inc. just announced the acquisition of RTFKT Studios (pronounced “artifact”), a leading creative brand that merges digital fashion, culture, and gaming. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The move will help shape the Nike metaverse as it seeks to launch next-gen collectibles.

“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, Inc. “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 was founded in 2020 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev as a digital fashion company that creates virtual sneakers and collectible NFTs. The trio met while working together at Fnatic, an esports organization, and grew intrigued with gaming, fashion, and crypto culture. The three creators say that they grew up playing Diablo, Half-life, Runescape, Minecraft, watching DBZ, Evangelion, Akira, Star Wars, collecting, trading, and reselling Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon cards.

TFKT became a well-known sensation when it collaborated with a Fewocious, an 18 year old artist. In just under seven minutes, they sold over $3 million worth of digital sneakers earlier this year, disrupting the traditional (and wearable) fashion market. 

The virtual fashion platform uses blockchain to create digital sneakers and collectibles. Vasilev has said a long-term goal of RTFKT was to attract new creatives and use NFTs as passports for experiences, games, and virtual events. 

“RTFKT is born on the blockchain to ensure authenticity, ownership and grant access to new experiences. We believe that blockchain technology has the potential to empower creators to lead, collaborate and create with no limits. NFTs are a transformative medium that is going to develop a new paradigm between creativity and commerce,” the group explained

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Earlier this year, RTFKT secured $8 million in a funding round led by Andreesen Horowitz, also named a16z, a venture capital firm that invests in tech. With the new funding, RTFKT said it would invest in developing new NFT utilities and beckoned “creators, innovators, Artstation legends, 3D artists” to join their team. 

“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.”

This month, Nike launched Nikeland, setting up shop in the Metaverse. The virtual word was inspired by Nike’s real-life headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The footwear and apparel company teamed up with the Roblox online gaming platform to create the digital world, which hosts over 40 million daily active users. Nikeland allows virtual shoppers to select classics like Air Force 1 or newer styles, like Air Max 2021. Nike recently filed trademark applications for its swoosh and Air Jordan logos, as well as “Nike” and “Just Do It,” indicating that the company plans to make and sell virtual merchandise.

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