What Happened: NFT creator RTFKT is kicking innovation into high gear. On December 5, the digital fashion and 3D creation studio revealed a new prototype called the Cryptokicks iRL, described as the “first native Web3 sneaker” that features the next evolution of smart sneaker technology.
In true futuristic fashion, the shoe pays homage to the limited edition Nike Mag — which debuted in 1989 with the release of the film Back to the Future 2 — and is equipped with auto-lacing, customizable lights, bluetooth pairing, walk detection, as well as wireless charging via the RTFKT Powerdeck. The model comes in four colorways and will be sold as NFTs that redeem the physical counterpart. Limited to 19,000 pairs, NFC chips are used to authenticate each physical sneaker against its digital collectible twin.
The Jing Take: RTFKT first shook the world when it sold $3.1 million worth of NFT sneakers in just seven minutes in February 2021. Since its acquisition by Nike in last December, the studio has helped propel the American sportswear giant into a front-runner in Web3. Not only has Nike released an NFT collection of Cryptokicks with RTFKT, but it has more recently launched a new Web3 shopping platform called dotSwoosh to build a community around its virtual wearables.
With this latest drop, Nike and RTFKT show that they can bring together the best of the digital and physical worlds. The smart sneaker capabilities highlight RTFKT’s vision while the iconic silhouette — which got a shout out from the actor who played “Doc Brown” in the Back to the Future franchise — reflects Nike’s decades of sneaker innovation and significance in pop culture. Moreover, there’s an added layer of connectivity: The Cryptokicks iRL functionalities are unlocked through the RTFKT iRL App, where owners can customize their fit and lighting animations. RTFKT has also teased “move-to-earn” quests and events for sneaker holders in the future.
If the Cryptokick NFTs are anything to go by, one of which was sold for $134,000, this iRL version could offer a nice sales boost. And this would be welcomed too: the Beaverton-based company has been battered by macroeconomic headwinds over the past year, causing net income to plunge 22 percent in the quarter ended August 31. With an established market leader like RTFKT on its side, Nike sets itself up for a long-term future in Web3.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.