RTFKT Studios (pronounced "Artefact") is a digital fashion & collectible company founded in January 2020. They've created items from digital sneakers to collectible avatars. These items exist on the blockchain as NFTs and are planned for use in gaming and augmented reality.
RTFKT also created a feature called "forging" which allows holders to redeem a physical version of the NFT they own. Not all NFTs are available for physical redemption unless specified.
RTFKT was acquired by Nike on December 13, 2021. In the announcement, Nike's CEO said this acquisition will be used to serve "athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture." The terms of the deal were undisclosed but the full announcement can be found here.
According to the agreement, each holder is provided with limited, personal, non-exclusive licensing of their avatar - meaning it cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Mint price: 3 ETH (dutch auction)
Launch date: Dec. 12, 2021
Nike is rapidly expanding it's digital footprint in the metaverse which starts with their acquisition of RTFKT Studios. To be honest, it doesn't come as much of a surprise considering Nike is trying to keep up with Adidas and establish some metaverse presence of their own. I was surprised that they flat out bought RTFKT instead of partnering with them but it'll be interesting to see how they invest into the brand.
It's likely that everything Nike does in the metaverse will flow through RTFKT, at least for the foreseeable future. If they try to legitimize RTFKT into a brand as recognizable as Jordan or Converse, it's not something I would want to bet against.
Nike sponsors over 16,000 athletes worldwide and guess how many of them have their own NFT collection? Probably near zero. That means there's a lot of potential NFT drops, new innovations, and hype on the way. I think this marks the beginning of a massive cultural shift centered around NFTs, sports, and gaming.
Gaming seemed to be one of the focal points of this acquisition. Typically when you hear the word "gaming" thrown around in NFT land people are talking about P2E, but I doubt this is in Nike's plans. Rather, this could possibly be Nike's attempt to move into esports wearables. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nike start sponsoring esports teams and providing them with Nike branded wearables to use in-game over the next few years. I think as time goes on this will become a very common sponsorship for esports teams.
Let's talk Clone X for a second.
I think the terms & conditions associated with Clone X can be best described as "silly" because some of the rules are flat out unenforceable. For example, term #6 says that owners can't fractionalize their NFTs but this has already been done by VincentVanDough.
Ok, so how are they going to prevent people from breaking the rules? They can't.
Then how are they going to punish people for doing this? They can't. (maybe a blacklist is possible but that'd be a terrible look)
Like I said earlier, complete silliness.
I don't plan on purchasing a Clone X anytime soon so long as there's no new utilities announced; however, I did make an adjacent RTFKT NFT purchase.
My RTFKT bet
A sleeper pick (in my opinion) for gaining RTFKT exposure is through buying a Metakey: RTFKT Edition. This NFT is a collab between The Metakey and RTFKT. It provides membership to everything Metakey does as well as a chance at exclusive opportunities from RTFKT.
In the past, holders of this NFT have been included in RTFKT snapshots such as the Clone X whitelist. There's no guarantee that Nike honors this ongoing partnership, however the fact that they want to "serve and grow [RTFKT's] innovative and creative community" makes me optimistic that the benefits from this collab will continue to flow. Still, this should be taken with a grain of salt as nothing is guaranteed.
Nike acquisition good?
I think this is the question on everybody's mind:
Is Nike's acquisition of RTFKT good or bad?
A lot of people seem to think it's not in true Web3 spirit because Nike bought RTFKT instead of establishing a partnership with them. I think this is partly because the Adidas x BAYC partnership is fresh on many peoples' minds. It's important to realize RTFKT and BAYC are completely different types of projects which should be taken into account when comparing these two partnerships.
What do I mean by this?
BAYC relies on it's community to create value.
RTFKT relies on it's creative team to create value.
It's important for BAYC to remain publicly-owned in order to maintain it's legitimacy as an open NFT project. BAYC has always been more of an open brand than a company. If BAYC was purchased by a centralized company it would completely change it's value proposition.
RTFKT has always operated more as a centralized company because that's the nature of the business they're in. Think about it, has RTFKT ever relied on their community for any creations? No. That's because they create everything in-house. Now that Nike owns them, will this change? No. The only difference is that they'll be funded by Nike and in turn Nike will have a greater say in partnerships and strategy. As stated in the Clone X terms, NFT owners will still be eligible for airdrops and additional benefits just like they always have.
In summary, there's room for open NFT projects like BAYC to thrive as well as centralized ones like RTFKT. Both projects serve the NFT community in their own ways. Nike's acquisition of RTFKT gives them a unique opportunity to become one of the first recognizable fashion brands in the metaverse. In my opinion, Nike provides a safety net for the RTFKT community and greatly strengthens the project's upside due to:
being the most marketable brand in sport
being able to leverage +16,000 existing athlete sponsorships