In recent memory, collectibles like sneakers and non-fungible tokens or NFTs have been all the rage, so it was only a matter of time before sneakers made their way into the digital space. Nike, a titan in sneaker production, took up the call to bring its unique designs to the NFT world.
Collaborating with a number of talented artists, Nike launched its first collection of virtual sneakers in April. The NFTs, dubbed Cryptokicks, consist of 20,000 NFTs that each carries the creative uniqueness that Nike has been known for.
Nike’s first entry into the market and NFT release was in collaboration with RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”). The company was bought by Nike last December, and it has stoked a market for virtual sneakers. For example, one Cryptokick sneaker designed by artist Takashi Murakami was recently sold to NFT collector AliSajwani for $134,000.
The purchase made waves online as NFT skeptics raised eyebrows at the jaw-dropping price. However, Jurgen Alker, who runs the NFT studio for lifestyle site Highsnobiety, shared his thoughts.
“The mechanics around NFTs and sneakers are pretty similar,” he explained. “Both are created around scarcity and drops. It is about community, status, and belonging to something.”
Apart from Nike, rival Adidas also joined in on the NFT trend, releasing a collection called Into the Metaverse last December. The NFT collection was made in partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Punks Comic, and crypto evangelist GMoney. Into the Metaverse gave buyers access to limited-edition streetwear, including hoodies and tracksuits. However, sneakers were not part of the collection.
Japanese athletic brand Asics also delved into the NFT space, collaborating with fitness app STEPN to produce 1,000 sneakers. The collaboration also produced an app that rewards runners with cryptocurrency for every step the owner takes. Asic’s virtual sneakers can be worn in the app, where the gamification features allow sneaker leveling, shoe-minting, and NFT customization.
Skeptics are under the impression that the NFT sneakers represent brands and investors’ money grab as they look to make a quick buck. However, virtual sneakers are still similar to real ones as they offer bragging rights and can be shown off on social media or NFT exchanges like OpenSea.