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December 14, 2021

Nike acquires virtual sneaker company RTFKT

US sportswear giant Nike, Inc has acquired virtual sneakers and crypto-collectibles start-up RTFKT in a bid to speed up its digital transformation.

By Hannah Abdulla

Nike describes RTFKT as a brand that leverages cutting-edge innovation to deliver next-generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.

Founded in 2020, by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev, RTFKT utilises the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality to create one-of-a-kind virtual products and experiences.

“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,” says John Donahoe, president and CEO of Nike, Inc. “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.”

Pagotto adds: “This is a unique opportunity to build the RTFKT brand and we are excited to benefit from Nike’s foundational strength and expertise to build the communities we love. Nike is the only brand in the world that shares the deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity and community, and we’re excited to grow our brand which was fully formed in the metaverse.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Nike recently posted a 16% rise in first-quarter reported revenues, with net income amounting to YS$1.9bn, compared to $1.5bn a year earlier.

Meanwhile, according to a recent analysis from GlobalData, Nike is the fashion and accessories company best positioned to take advantage of future apparel disruption in the sector.

In October, the US sportswear giant unveiled a new high-tech research and innovation lab where it will test out advanced prototypes for new lines.

The facility will house biomechanics researchers, robotics experts, computational designers and patent pros, in addition to 80-plus new prototype machines, 825 pieces of testing equipment, 97 force plates, and four environmental chambers. It also features the world’s largest motion-capture installation comprising 400 cameras.

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