Nike has made the move into the metaverse with the acquisition of sneaker and NFT brand RTFKT (pronounced “artefact”.).

The announcement was made late last night that the American footwear giant had purchased the digital collectible site although just how much they paid and the terms of the sale has yet to be disclosed.

Founded in 2020 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev, RTFKT has become infamous for their creation of virtual (and sometimes even material) sneakers.

They’ve gained particular notoriety and attention for their design and development of digital sneakers inspired by computer games. 

So much so that they’ve already nabbed a handful of high profile collaborations in the two years since launching, including Jeff Staple, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Takashi Murakami. The latter, an avatar partnership called CloneX has already seen nearly US$65 million in transactions since dropping three weeks ago.

In a statement released shortly after, President and CEO of NIKE, Inc. John Donahoe said that the acquisition of RTFKT 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.

“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.” 

The move into the world of NFT brings Nike into the next phase of integrating the product into the burgeoning avatar culture being taken up in streetwear circles.

It won’t be enough to simply own a pair of Dunks in seasonal colours, serious fans of the brand (and of sneakers) will be chasing the blockchain of digital versions.

Basically opening up the sneakerhead resale market into virtual reality alongside websites GOAT and Grailed.

Even if you believe that Nike is simply joining the future, there’s no doubt that these wheels are also greased by fact that RTFKT will add to an already impressive profit margin.

According to Hypebeast, earlier this year a sale of their sneakers raised an eyewatering US$3.1Million in seven minutes.