Nike has secured a deal to purchase virtual fashion startup RTFKT as it ramps up its metaverse investment.
The terms of the tie up have not yet been revealed however the deal marks the sportswear giant’s biggest statement of intent towards a push into virtual fashion and the metaverse.
RTFKT was founded in January 2020 and has fast become one of the leading brands within the virtual fashion space.
The company has accrued an enthusiastic fan base through limited-edition drops and collaborations with notable artists including Takashi Murakami and Jeff Staple.
The startup has also experienced explosive growth since its inception, seeing monthly revenue of $4.5 million in May this year.
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This figure is even more impressive when you consider the fact that its annual revenue in 2020 was $600,000.
It also managed to secure $8 million in funding in May led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with plans to build out its internal infrastructure and online marketplace.
“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,” Nike chief executive said John Donahoe said in a statement.
The details of the partnership and how the two brands will work together are currently unclear, however it appears that Nike plans to scale the brand as its own entity instead of absorbing it into the Nike brand.
Nike has also recently been granted a patent that allows it to link a digital asset to a physical trainer using blockchain technology.
However some experts are not convinced by the commercial applications of the metaverse.
NPD Group sports industry analyst Matt Powell said: “I do not see a commercial opportunity for the metaverse, owning virtual shoes will only appeal to a tiny sliver of the market.”