NBA superstar LeBron James was seen wearing a pair of special edition Nike sneakers ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors’ first game in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The sneakers were created by RTFKT, a digital fashion company that Nike acquired in December 2021. RTFKT has been creating limited-edition NFT-based shoes since 2020, with prices ranging from $11 to $9,245.
James was spotted wearing RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 Genesis, a limited edition sneaker with only 1,776 pairs available and currently owned by only 690 people on OpenSea.
Obtaining these sneakers requires the purchase of the corresponding NFT, which can then be redeemed for the physical product. The Genesis NFT secondary market price starts at 0.4 ETH or around $760 on OpenSea. The physical sneakers are only redeemable until May 8.
On the way. pic.twitter.com/P6KjIATatA
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 3, 2023
The Lakers tweeted a photo of James sporting the black and red kicks with his teammate Anthony Davis. The image went viral amongst RTFKT NFT holders, and then the tweet was later reposted by RTFKT, including a zoomed-in look at the footwear.
RTFKT co-founder Steven “Zaptio” Vasilev later shared a photo of RTFKT COO Nikhil Gopalani and himself presenting James with an honorary Clone X avatar.
“We got [to] onboard the legend [LeBron James] to RTFKT with his 1/1 Clone X,” Vasilev tweeted.
Crypto news site Decrypt contacted representatives from Nike and RTFKT to obtain additional information about their interactions with James. They wanted to know if his involvement was an extension of his current long-term sponsorship agreement with Nike and if he had received any NFTs. However, both companies have yet to respond to the inquiries.
Sneakers for a KING 👑 pic.twitter.com/lYX4UBrMxX
— RTFKT (@RTFKT) May 3, 2023
Migration to digital fashion
In recent years, many industries, including fashion, have been increasingly migrating into the digital realm and embracing the so-called metaverse, a term used to describe the convergence of virtual and physical worlds.
On April 28, augmented reality metaverse platform OVER hosted its Metaverse Fashion Week at the iconic Piazza del Duomo in Milan. Many notable participants, such as Forbes, XR Couture, Pinko, Pet Liger, Space Runners x Balmain, PwC Italy and many more, attended the event.
— Zaptio RTFKT (@Zaptio) May 3, 2023
The reception was very positive, with many praising the historic event presentation and the impressive display of AR fashion.
“This is the time to build, experiment, and create,” said Stefano Galassi, Cambridge University’s Innovation Advisor and the Metaverse Fashion Council.
Nike has also been actively exploring the digital fashion space with its .SWOOSH platform, which has 330,000 members. The platform allows users to create and trade virtual Nike products such as sneakers, apparel, accessories, and wearables for games.
I’m glad I don’t have to photoshop cgi sneakers on icons anymore. It became a reality… thank you 🙏👌👑 pic.twitter.com/EsudPEK0GR
— ClegFX RTFKT (@clegfx) May 3, 2023
The popularity of NFTs has also played a significant role in the growth of the digital fashion industry. In May 2022, Nike sold an NFT sneaker designed by artist Takashi Murakami for $134,000. The shoe was posted on the RTFKT marketplace, along with several other high-end digital fashion items.
Despite its popularity, RTFKT is just one of many companies that dabble in the digital fashion industry. Well-known fashion brands like Gucci and Louis Vitton have joined in the digital wagon by opening their 3D digital fashion store, while Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY and Balenciaga have participated in virtual fashion events such as Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week.
The digital fashion market was valued at $342.71 million in 2022, with the latest research projecting its rapid growth to reach a CAGR of 187.88 percent by the end of 2028.
As technology continues to evolve and consumers increasingly interact with virtual environments, we can expect to see more fashion brands explore the potential of the metaverse in the future.