While it isn’t technically an NFT, Gucci is approaching the über-trendy space with a virtual-only sneaker now up for sale. The Italian luxury house has partnered with the virtual sneaker app Wanna to release its first augmented reality sneakers, which come as a package of 25 pairs available for as low as $9.
Upon purchase, which is $9 on Wanna and $13 on Gucci’s app, users can virtually try on all 25 AR sneakers. Each design is virtual only, meaning you can’t buy real-life counterparts to wear. Previously, Gucci and Wanna have allowed users to try on virtual versions of existing sneakers to help decide if they want to purchase them.
The Gucci release comes amongst a sudden explosion in NFTs. Even auction house Christie’s is in on the action, and there’ve been some small but expensive entries into the space by the sneaker world. A brand called RTFKT is making waves by selling original and collaborative sneaker designs as non-fungible tokens. The limited-edition sneakers have sold for up to $10,000 a pop — foreshadowing a larger rise of NFTs within sneaker culture.
How it’s different than an NFT — Gucci and Wanna are making the luxury kicks available in unlimited numbers, which is the key distinction preventing them from being categorized as NFTs. That said, their AR sneakers offer more opportunities for interaction than the sneaker NFTs we’ve seen so far, which owners can merely look at and hoard. The virtual sneakers are also a hell of a lot cheaper than NFTs, and cheaper than the tangible sneakers Gucci sells.
Wanna is an app that specializes in the intersection of tech and sneakers. On its app, you can try on a wide range of virtual sneaker recreations, including Cactus Plant Flea Market’s Swarovski crystal Nike Dunk, and a wider range of offerings from Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and more. Each shoe has a link to buy its real-life counterpart, including reselling platforms for the sneakers that have long since sold out.
If sneaker NFTs do take off, they just may bring more impossible sneaker purchases for the bulk of consumers. But at least what Gucci is doing with AR sneakers is the opposite of exclusionary.