Hailed as the 'Supreme of digital fashion', within two years of launching, 3D design studio Rtfkt were creating the highest quality virtual sneakers and collectibles on the market, such as the Punks project which played on a trainer silhouette akin to the Nike Air Force 1. With the 'drop' format of NFTs and digital assets aligning with the mentality of the sneaker community, who are emerging as a key market for digital fashion, plus trademark infringements on Nike designs as NFTs appearing on StockX (whom Nike subsequently sued), it was little surprise that the sportswear giant Nike acquired Rtfkt in December 2021.
At the time of acquisition, Nike released a statement where they referred to Rtfkt's digital collectables as merging 'culture and gaming'. Acknowledging the central role Web 3.0 and the developing metaverse are playing in culture, with fashion, art and music all engaging with the space, Nike made it clear that they had intentions to invest in their digital footprint and as a result, expand Nike's offerings for customers including athletes and creators. Valued at $33.3 million in May 2021, Rtfkt has sold digital sneakers and NFTs - most recently with the artist Takashi Murakami - for staggering sums of money ranging into the millions. Although luxury brands including Balenciaga and Gucci have been engaging with digital assets and gaming for well over a year, with Gucci launching their own Virtual 25 sneaker and garage where users could customise their sneakers last March, Nike delayed their entry into the space. Devoting themselves to high quality designs over hype, they appointed Andrew Schwartz as director of metaverse engineering last year, and in November 2021 they launched the space NIKELAND on the popular gaming platform Roblox which featured a digital showroom where users could dress their avatars in classic kicks like the Air Force 1 and Nike Blazer. The Nike Dunk, however, was noticeably absent, until now.
The Nike Dunk Genesis make up the Nike Cryptokicks collection, and have been designed with the iconic 1985 Nike Dunk style in mind. Previously reimagined by the late Virgil Abloh for OFF-WHITE, the Nike Dunk has proven to be one of the most collectible sneakers of all time, with Nike also inviting Travis Scott, Jeff Staple, Supreme, and numerous other cultural heavyweights to reinterpret the basketball shoe. Revealed on chat site Discord and Twitter, the collection of Nike Cryptokicks could initially only be purchased by users who received Rtfkt's 'Mnlth NFTs' in February through owning a Marakami Clone-X. This plays into the collector's mindset, rewarding customers for their purchases; a process which is key when considering the development of the digital fashion and art market. Now, you can access the NFTs through the secondary re-sale market OpenSea, where they're selling for an average of 3 ETH, and explore the eight versions, or 'skins', of the Nike Dunk Genesis, which can be customised by users using Rtfkt 'Skin Vials'.