Nike just bought RTFKT Studios, a brand that makes virtual sneakers

The move will help Nike bring digital footwear into the metaverse.

RTFKT Studios Sneaker NFT

Nike has announced it has acquired RTFKT Studios, a maker of sneaker NFTs that instantly gives the sportswear giant a leg up in the metaverse.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed as Nike announced the acquisition Monday, but RTFKT Studios has already sold millions of dollars in virtual sneakers. The blockchain based brand sold $3.1 million worth of NFTs in just 7 minutes earlier this year in collaboration with the artist Fewocious, and RTFKT also partnered with Jeff Staple in March for the first major NFT sneaker collaboration.

“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,” Nike president and CEO John Donahoe said in a 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.”

Now RTFKT can make the real thing — Many of RTFKT Studios’ virtual sneakers have been clear riffs on Nike sneakers including the Air Jordan 1 and Air Force 1. Having vigorously pursued legal means to cut down on real-life imitators, it’s noteworthy that Nike chose not to sue but instead acquired a brand that’s made millions partially based on the Swoosh’s intellectual property.

RTFKT Studios has sold its NFTs for up to $10,000 a pop, and its acquisition by Nike instantly gives its new parent company an established player in the metaverse while the newly acquired company will now be able to make real (virtual) sneakers from the most popular brand in the world.

Nike previously entered the space last month with the launch of “Nikeland,” a virtual world made in partnership with Roblox that allows players to outfit their avatars in Nike product. Elsewhere, Adidas has partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club for its first series of NFTs — proving that the metaverse truly is the next battleground in sneakers.