By: James Lanigan, Web3 Marketing Executive
Over the last 18 months, we have seen a lot of well recognized, iconic, Web2 brands from various industries enter Web3 with varying levels of conviction.
In the sports-fashion world, there are few brands more recognizable than Nike, Adidas & Puma - all of which have stepped into Web3 with high conviction.
Interestingly, they all took different approaches to their strategies, arguably to be expected. The Web3 space is still very much in its infancy, and even though these brands have a gigantic Web2 presence, we have seen firsthand that that doesn’t always translate into success in a completely new arena, these brands are having to take different approaches, and experiment with what works best for their identity and long term vision.
It could be argued that Nike entered Web3 with the most conviction, as they chose to acquire the Web3 native brand RTFKT (pronounced ‘artifact’) for an undisclosed figure late last year. It was however rumored to be a 9-figure deal as RTFKT had already raised at a $33 million valuation back in May 2021, 7 months prior to the Nike acquisition and also prior to NFTs going on a huge adoption run last summer.
The deal made a lot of sense for Nike, with RTFKT describing themselves as:
A creator-led organization. RTFKT uses the latest in game engines, NFT, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality, combined with manufacturing expertise to create one-of-a-kind sneakers and digital artifacts.
Since the merging of the companies, Nike has released many firsts, including; their first ever digital sneaker in the form of the Nike Dunk Genesis collection, their first ‘phygital’ piece of clothing in the AR hoodie, and just recently released a full collection of NFT clothing items, that are all forgeable for the corresponding physical piece. Items in the collection include limited edition Nike Air Force 1’s, caps, socks, varsity jackets, and more. All of this, of course, came at a premium price, with the AF 1s alone costing 0.38 ETH ($600+) per pair to mint.
This was the first notable event we have seen in NFTs where digital truly meets physical, in a way that the fashion industry in particular hasn’t experienced before, and it is no surprise that Nike is at the forefront of this innovation.
Adidas also entered the Web3 space last year, but in a very different way from Nike. With NFTs being very much unknown territory, especially back in mid-late 2021, Adidas decided to release their genesis NFT collection ‘Into The Metaverse’ in collaboration with what was, at the time (and still are), three very well-known brands in the space; The Bored Ape Yacht Club, G-Money and Pixel Vault.
This approach was smart, and in a way, increased their chances of acceptance and success in what is still to this day a very tight knit community. Despite Adidas being one of the most recognizable brands in the world, entering in this fashion showed respect for this emerging industry, and was them acknowledging they have a lot to learn from the Web3 native brands they had partnered with.
The initial utility promise from the Adidas ITM NFT was that it could be used to redeem three free pieces of limited-edition clothing, including a hoodie, beanie, and tracksuit, of which only the hoodie has made it to the homes of holders so far. Since the initial release, however, Adidas has clearly developed a longer-term Web3-focused strategy they wish to execute, launching their own Web3 dedicated Discord server and Twitter account, with their Genesis NFT at the heart of it all.
The team has promised future physical and digital utility, all tied to the ITM NFT and taking place in their ‘Web3 Studio’. Earlier this year the team completed a free airdrop of ‘Capsules’ to their holders. It is unclear what their plan is from here, however, the team has teased in the Adidas ITM discord server that everything will eventually build up to a PFP collection release.
It has been slow going for Adidas in terms of progress though, which seems to be linked to the fact they are just such a large organization. There is a considerable amount of red tape to get through internally to launch the simplest of initiatives, which makes it hard to compete and stay relevant in a space that moves so fast. Seemingly, in comparison, Nike has not had such a problem as they are operating through RTFKT, which has its own team, leaders, and Web3 experience.
Comparatively, Puma entered the space far later than Nike and Adidas, launching their genesis NFT collection the Puma Nitro Pass as recently as last month.
Puma is treating the Nitro Pass NFT as an access token, that be used to unlock unique physical and digital experiences. The physical products are going to be the first-of-their-kind experiment with new materials, technology, and design.
Since its launch and irrespective of the current bear market, Puma has moved quickly and is giving value back to its NFT holders straight away. Just this week, Puma unveiled a metaverse experience with NFTs at New York Fashion Week called ‘Black Station’.
The Black Station (a homage to the Black Station that existed 20+ years ago which was Puma’s home for developing the most innovative designs in fashion) features exclusive NFTs with limited edition redeemable physical sneakers as part of its ‘Futrograde’ show:
"PUMA Black Station offers an interactive and immersive space to experience the future of the brand. As an ever-evolving 3D canvas, Black Station will become a dynamic destination to visit for providing customers with various Web 3.0 experiences in the days ahead."
It has been announced that Nitropass NFT holders get access to two NFTs, one that links to a physical pair of sneakers and another that can unlock a unique experience linked to the chosen sneakers. Then, following the completion of the Futrograde Show, Nitro Pass NFT holders can burn the related NFT and claim the physical pair of sneakers.
Puma has hit the ground running with this activation for its new Web3 community and should they continue in this fashion, could well challenge Nike & Adidas for the top spot in the space.
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