Nike acquires virtual fashion start-up RTFkt Studios

Nike took the concept of “exclusive fashion” to a whole new level by buying up a company that sells shoes that people will never wear, or even touch.

The brand has acquired RTFKT Studios (pronounced “artifact”), a British start-up* that creates virtual sneakers and clothing that sell for thousands of dollars.

RTFKT’s technology allows shoppers to look like they’re wearing these items on social media platforms such as Instagram and its collaborations* with video game companies allow gamers to dress up their avatars in their RTFKT purchases .

Nike hasn’t revealed how much it paid for the year-old London startup, but RTFKT was valued at $33 million in its last funding round in May, where it raised $8 million from of investors, including Silicon Valley company Andreessen Horowitz*. capital firm *known for its savvy* investments in companies such as Facebook, Airbnb and Slack.

Such investments came as little surprise to those monitoring the hype* around RTFKT.

In February, the company sold 621 pairs of virtual rainbow-colored sneakers in collaboration with teen artist FEWOCiOUS in just six minutes, earning more than $3.1 million. Some were resold a few weeks later for double the price, at around $5,000 a pair.

Other pairs of virtual sneakers created by RTFKT have sold for up to $40,000.

Nike Chief Executive John Donahoe said the purchase of RTFKT would help accelerate Nike’s “digital transformation” and allow it to “serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, games and culture”.

Benoit Pagotto, co-founder of RTFKT, said the startup was “fully formed in the metaverse*” and that the company would continue to evolve* its innovations* and products with help from Nike.

Many companies have shown interest in the “metaverse” since Facebook announced in October 2021 that it would invest billions of dollars in building the infrastructure of this digital universe.

It is expected to be a series of 3D digital worlds that people can jump into, either through virtual reality glasses or their computer, where they can meet friends, have business meetings , going on dates and shopping.

In such worlds, brands believe that people will want their digital selves to wear the latest fashions, and it is in this area that companies such as RTFKT should excel.

This story was originally published by The London Times and is reproduced with permission.


  • Start: a new business starting from scratch
  • collaborations: the actions of working with someone to produce something
  • Silicon Valley: a region in northern California in the United States where some of the world’s largest technology companies are based
  • venture capital company: a business that provides money to help businesses get started in exchange for a share of that business
  • advised: shrewd, knowledgeable
  • hype: enthusiasm, interest
  • metaverse: a network of 3D virtual worlds
  • to evolve: gradually develop
  • novelties: new methods, ideas or products


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  1. Which company did Nike take over?
  2. What does this company produce?
  3. Where is this company based?
  4. How long did it take the company to sell 621 pairs of virtual rainbow-colored sneakers in February?
  5. How much money did these 621 pairs of virtual sneakers sell for in total?


1. What do you think?
“Virtual fashion is a waste of money!” Do you agree with this observation? Write paragraphs explaining your answer. Use the information in the story and your own ideas to support your opinion.

Time: allow 25 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Digital Technologies

2. Extension
What would a day in a 3D virtual school look like? Create a story, game plan, or artwork showing it.

Time: allow 40 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Digital Technologies, Visual Communication Design

I spy names
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects) and times (months or days of the week).

How many names can you find in the article?

Can you sort them by places, names and times?

Choose three nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

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