Web2 Meets Web3: Nike x RTFKT’s CryptoKicks

When Nike acquired RTFKT Studios in December 2021, a firm popular for its digital sneakers sold as Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), it was a match made in heaven. That move marked Nike’s entrance into the metaverse, and as expected, the Nike x RTFKT has been fruitful, with Nike making close to $200 million in NFT sales. However, it is the technology that has caught the eye of many.

In April, Nike and RTFKT revealed their first Ethereum NFT sneakers, the RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks. These are digital wearable items that users can use in the metaverse worlds. RTFKT also revealed via a teaser video on Twitter how one can alter the digital shoes via collectible “Skin Vials,” to achieve varying styles. 

Nike and RTFKT have shown that they aren’t stopping there as they look to bridge the gap between the Web2 and Web3 experience by creating its physical CryptoKicks. Users can now have the best of both worlds with a sneaker that exists in the metaverse and on their feet. 

Photo Credit: NFT Now

RTFKT Co-Founders Steven Vasilev and Chris Le, during their panel at NFT Now x Mana Common’s The Gateway, gave the NFT community a sneak peek into their forthcoming CryptoKicks smart footwear line. Dubbed by Vasilev as the “first true Web3 sneaker”, the CryptoKicks will come along with an app that can control the shoes, which owners can use to change the sneaker’s features with the press of a button. The CryptoKicks, still in the development stage, was likened by Vasilev to RTFKT’s smartwatch. According to him, these sneakers would feature accelerometers, auto-lacing, and lighting. He ultimately noted that they would release full details about the sneakers on December 5. 

Why Nike and RTFKT’s Physical CryptoKicks Smartwear Footline is Significant

This latest move from Nike continues an emerging trend in the NFT space: the creation of utility NFTs. Utility NFTs are designed to give holders value beyond the digital asset. It is expected that the current holders of the RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks NFT will have first dibs on the CryptoKics smartwear once it becomes available. 

During the Gateway Panel discussion, Vasilev noted that the sneaker is seen as a tool to merge worlds, and rightly so. With this move, Nike and RTFKT can bring real-world items to their Web3 audience and digital items to their Web2 audience. Furthermore, it gives a glimpse of what is to come for the digital space and physical world, whereby every real-world item or experience also exists or takes place in the metaverse and, likewise, thereby connecting both worlds in some way. There also exists a term for both worlds known as “phygital,” a combination of ‘Physical’ and ‘Digital.’

Fashion and Entertainment brands are at the heart of these phygital happenings. For example, we have seen fashion brands like Balmain try to simultaneously give their audience a feel of both worlds. Fashion brand Zara also launched a new collection called Lime Glam, which users can wear inside and outside the metaverse. The combination of real-world and in-metaverse items for game avatars is another practical example of how these events work. However, the phygital world isn’t limited to just fashion and gaming. 

Other collectible projects have also explored the phygital space. For example, in September, Funko Teams and Warner Brothers partnered to create DC comic-based NFTs on WAX. This partnership allowed DC fans to participate in an NFT drop for the digital version of DC’s “The Brave and the Bold” comic. To give fans a taste of both worlds, the brands also launched a physical version of the comic book, which was available at Walmart. Users who purchased the physical copy also gained access to the digital copy, and those who purchased the digital copy also had access to the physical one. 

The phygital space undoubtedly allows creators and brands to explore other use cases of NFTs. Above all, it offers unique experiences for users by bringing pieces of the real and virtual worlds together. 

This article was posted with the permission of Patrick Hagerty.

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