New Balance plans to make digital sneakers for the metaverse

New trademark filings indicate the brand is creating its own online world much like competitors Nike, Jordan Brand, and Adidas.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - 2020/09/19: New Balance store seen in Barcelona. (Photo by Jorge Sanz/SOPA Images...
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New trademark filings indicate New Balance is stepping into the metaverse. As of January 13, the sportswear company plans to use its branding for various virtual products including apparel, footwear, and sports equipment, according to trademark attorney Josh Gerben.

As the world of NFTs and digital fashion grows more popular (and more profitable), it’s no surprise that New Balance wants in. Its filing report, first seen by Gerben, states that the brand is planning to launch its own “downloadable virtual goods, namely computer programs; retail store services featuring virtual merchandise;” and “entertainment services.” Each portion revolves mainly around New Balance-branded footwear, apparel, sports bags, sports equipment, and accessories for use in the metaverse.

Growing competition — New Balance has yet to confirm its plans for the online world, although it’s likely the brand is seeking out a marketing strategy similar to competitors Nike, Jordan Brand, and Adidas — all of which have already entered the metaverse. In November, the former teamed up with Roblox to launch Nikeland, a virtual space filled with motion-activated mini games, branded apparel, and collectible cyber sneakers. Soon after, Nike also acquired digital shoe company and NFT studio, RTFKT, ensuring the sportswear brand would be a leading creator of virtual sneakers in the metaverse.

New Balance may be making virtual stores within its world — much like this one in Nikeland — to tease real new products or sell exclusive digital digs. Nike

Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand followed suit with its own digital environment, hosted on Fortnite, featuring scavenger hunts for exclusive virtual apparel and shoes. Not to be beat, Adidas launched an NFT collection made in collaboration with Bored Ape Yacht Club — otherwise known as the most hyped space in the metaverse — which gave owners of the digital art exclusive access to cyber experiences and products. Whether New Balance will approach its own virtual world with a similar sense of exclusivity has yet to be determined.

What “new” will New Balance bring? — Digital merchandise, a branded online space, and NFTs are all possibilities for the label, its trademark filings hint. Yet as the metaverse becomes all that more popular — drawing in both competing companies and customers — New Balance will have to offer something different than what’s already out there.