It’s time to step into the Metaverse, and Nike wants to be the shoes on your futuristic feet.
On Monday, Dec. 13, Nike announced that it was acquiring the major virtual fashion platform RTFKT under undisclosed terms.
Born in the metaverse, the self-described “new age Supreme, for a digital audience” has been a trailblazer in the virtual fashion scene since its founding in January of 2020, making digital fashion products as in-game purchases or as part of digital collections.
The platform’s popularity has grown exponentially along with interest in the virtual fashion scene, growing from a 2020 annual revenue of $600,000 to a monthly revenue of $4.5 million in May 2021. In the same month, RTFKT secured $8 million in funding from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also investors in Roblox and Clubhouse.
Best known for its sneakers, RTFKT has built its popularity with its exclusive, limited-edition collaborations and loyal fanbase. A collaboration with FEWOCiOUS generated $3 million in only seven minutes, and artist Takashi Murakami recently joined forces with the platform for a large-scale 3D-rigged avatar project that has seen nearly $65 million in transaction volume in less than three weeks.
Global sneaker and sportswear brand Nike has only ever acquired one other footwear company; in July 2003, it purchased Converse for $309 million. This acquisition is a significant step into virtual spaces. While the company has already collaborated with Roblox and Fortnite, creating Jordan sneakers for the latter, this is Nike’s most significant investment in the virtual world.
“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,” John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike, states in a press 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.”
While this acquisition is not estimated to significantly increase Nike’s revenue, some argue that the increased interest in NFTs will popularize virtual fashion, which currently only appeals to a minuscule portion of the market.