While there will be no avatars at launch, the brand’s stated goal is for the virtual products published on Swoosh to become wearable on and off the platform. “I envision the avatars on RTFKT being able to wear our wearables as well as avatars in games you already play,” said Ron Faris, VP/GM of Nike Virtual Studios, the brand’s arm founded in early 2022, focused on the Virtual focused sphere.
Of course, NFT studio RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”) was bought by Nike in December 2021, so the porting of “co-designed” virtual clothing to this platform is hardly surprising. Additionally, there are no specific details on Swoosh elements’ interoperability with other platforms or metaverses, but Faris says the plan is to “work from where our wearables start to become more usable via more experiences or games that you play yourself.” will”. In other words, wait and see. Meta’s recent announcement that its avatars will have legs seems like an ideal opportunity for virtual sneakers.
Nike already has a Metaverse room on Roblox – Nikeland – where users can buy and carry virtual goods using not cash or crypto but in-game currency. The virtual brand world launched in November 2021 has seen more than 26 million visitors, according to Roblox. Again, Faris doesn’t seem to know how Swoosh will interact with Nikeland. “We haven’t really thought about what that looks like,” he says.
By introducing Swoosh, Nike may create its own virtual world that doesn’t need to rely on other platforms. Nikeland could be subsumed in Swoosh, but interoperability certainly needs to be at the fore for that to succeed. This is exactly why MSquared, the division of Improbable that builds Metaverse for third parties, requires clients to ensure all of their virtual spaces are interoperable.
Nike isn’t the first high-end apparel brand to offer virtual products. Gucci was something of a pioneer: in 2021, the brand launched the Gucci Virtual 25 digital-only sneakers, wearable on VRChat and Roblox, and created Gucci Town on Roblox, an immersive place where users could visit other virtual Gucci clothes can buy . The bet apparently paid off: a digital-only Gucci bag on Roblox sold for more than the price of its physical counterpart (in in-game currency, of course). Vault, Gucci’s online concept store hosting various crypto and NFT projects, launched in The Sandbox in October 2022, cementing the brand’s relationship with the Metaverse.
Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger also have sections on Roblox that sell digital goods. And in June 2022, Balenciaga, Thom Browne and Prada partnered with Meta to create virtual products for sale on the platform’s new Avatars Store. According to Bloomberg, the Metaverse market could reach $783.3 billion in 2024, up from $478.7 billion in 2020 – and virtual products undoubtedly play a role in this forecast.
Nike may see a virtual product marketplace as the next logical step in its digital successes. The brand has seen a huge increase in online sales in the wake of the pandemic and by March 2022, digital channels and applications accounted for more than a quarter of its sales, with digital sales increasing sharply.