By Daniel Levi
Would you buy shoes or houses that don’t exist? If yes, how much would you be willing to pay? Now imagine if you have to sell these products in the metaverse for millions of dollars. That’s exactly what one NFT tech startup was able to do in the virtual world in less than 5 minutes.
2021 was the year of the NFT as collectors and traders spent $22 billion on NFTs, up from $100 million in 2020, according to the Guardian. 2022, on the other hand, is shaping up to be the year of the metaverse. Yesterday, we told you about how a Snoop Dogg fan paid $450,000 to be his next-door neighbor in the metaverse.
Metaverse gained popularity last year after Facebook announced it was changing its rebranding to Meta to reflect its focus on the metaverse. Since then, the metaverse has become an instant buzzword as investors and developers look to cash in on the next big trend. While virtual real estate has garnered global headlines, experts say the metaverse could disrupt and forever revolutionize the $3 trillion fashion industry. Major brands are already racing to set up shop in the metaverse. One tech startup is already making a splash in the virtual fashion world.
RTFKT (pronounced artifact) Studios is a fast-growing virtual fashion platform for digital sneakers. Founded just two years ago, RTFKT develops custom sneakers for video game enthusiasts. With the popularity of NFT in 2020, RTFKT started to design and sell virtual sneakers and other fashion items for the metaverse.
RTFKT was founded in 2020 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev. RTFKT is a pioneering and innovative brand that redefines the boundaries of physical and digital value to serve its broad community of creators. The startup leverages the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality to create one-of-a-kind virtual products and experiences.
Last year, RTFKT made headlines after the startup sold 620 pairs of virtual sneakers for $3.1 million in less than 5 minutes. In an interview with Bloomberg, RTFKT founder, Benoit Pagotto, said the sale was a collaborative effort with the teenage crypto-artist known as FEWOCiOUS, an 18-year old with a rapidly rising profile in the digital space. The two collaborated on a series of virtual sneakers, accompanied by digital merch in the form of a ‘Drip’, and a ‘Charm.’
In an Instagram post, the company said, “HISTORY WAS MADE!! The fewo sneakers sold out in 7mins and generated $3.1 Million. Congratulations @fewocious 🙏🏻🚨thanks @nifty_gateway.” Although the startup said the sneakers were sold out in 7 minutes, RTFKT founder, Benoit Pagotto, told Bloomberg in the video below that the sale actually took less than 5 minutes.
To further accelerate growth and meet the growing demands for its virtual sneakers, RTFKT went on to raise $8 million in seed funding backed by Andreessen Horowitz and C Ventures, a leading venture capital company co-founded by Adrian Cheng.
Fast forward a few months after the fundraiser, NIKE acquired RTFKT to accelerate its digital transformation. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. In a statement, NIKE said, “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.”
In the video below, RTFKT founder Benoit Pagotto spoke with the founder and CEO of The Business of Fashion Imran Amed and why the metaverse is being seen as the next fashion goldmine. Enjoy!