The crypto brand RTFKT Studios continued to dominate the NFT fashion space this past week by dropping a new sneaker collaboration with Atari. The news comes on a day when Gucci became the first luxury stalwart to release its own digital sneaker with fashion-tech company Wanna.
The star shoe of the series, the “Shiny Edition,” is an edition of 1 sneaker that looks something like a purple slip-on version of an Atari console. Six artists were commissioned to create the other six sneakers in the series that became available on the auction site Rarible last Thursday, in editions of 50 (partially done to promote the Atari Token). Although the shoes are only available as NFTs, you can still try them on using Snapchat, or the MetaverseMe App, to make sure they fit your online persona.
Last month, RTFKT made waves in the NFT space after they generated $3.1 million via their sneaker collaboration with the artist FEWOCiOUS. Those sneakers, which look like more traditional custom Air Force 1’s, sold more than 600 times, and will actually be able to be turned into real shoes by the buyers if they want (which technically makes them not NFTs, but who’s asking). RTFKT Studios has also auctioned off a pair of Chinese New Year sneakers, Cyber Sneakers (based on Elon Musk’s Cyber Car), and Doge Slippers, which as you might expect are named after the eponymous crypto coin.
Now Gucci has joined the fray, reuniting with Wanna on its own digital sneaker. The Alessandro Michele-designed digital shoe can be bought and worn, but it’s not a token that lives on a blockchain and you won't end up owning it after buying it. It's available to purchase for $11.99 on its app or $8.99 on Wanna’s app. “In five or maybe 10 years a relatively big chunk of fashion brands revenue will come from digital products,” Wanna co-founder and CEO Sergey Arkhangelskiy told Business of Fashion. “Our goal as a company is to actually supersede the product photos ... and substitute it for something which is way more engaging and closer to offline shopping.” Last year Gucci worked with Wanna to deliver AR try-ons for the Gucci Sneaker Garage.
The potential for sneakers in the NFT market is massive. In one sense, sneakers are a perfect analog for how NFTs function, as both sneakers and NFTs derive their value from exclusivity and a largely invented idea of value. Although NFTs are not fungible, users are still able to interact with the sneakers in a few ways, like trying them on in apps or wearing them around in games such as Decentraland and The Sandbox. With further adoption of AR and VR technology, crypto fashion, and sneakers, in particular, will become a popular way for the masses to interact with NFTs. Aside from just sneakers, RTFKT has also auctioned off charms and jackets, all of which are also wearable in the digital realm.
The digital sneaker space has been building up for some time. In 2019, Nike patented the tokenization of real-life shoe purchases, a token they called Cryptokicks, while last year saw the launch of Aglet, an app that lets users buy digital shoes that wear out over time as if you were really wearing them. Putting NFTs and crypto aside, new trading platforms like Rally and Otis have given sneaker investors another way to spend their money on shoes, exclusively digitally, by offering shares in sneakers, as if the sneaker were a company. So instead of buying a pair of signed Kobe 2’s, you can now own a share of them, and diversify that portfolio by buying shares in some Dior Jordan’s.