In an ever-changing world, nothing is constant; the influx of new technology and advancements continues to push boundaries with limitations set only by the mind. Sentiments that resonate heavily with RTFKT—Pronounced as artefact—a Crypto Brand founded in January of 2020 whose efforts have changed the virtual and sneaker world with their Metaverse sneaker drops.
With new-found popularity, NFT’s (Non-fungible tokens) have become intangible sought-after products that are as scarce and as collectible as any sample or unreleased pair. Although NFT’s have recently gained mainstream attraction, RTFKT Studios—made up by co-founders Benoit Pagotto, Steven Vasilev and Chris Le—are no strangers to the virtual world. The collective has conceptualized sneaker designs into a virtual realm in which often times are presented with augmented reality and blockchain authentication. In doing so, they have created a game-changing and secure formula in which sneakers are as collectible in real life as they are in the Metaverse.
Once labeled as a subculture, the valuation of sneakers has transcended from a simple commodity into a phenomenon that inadvertently created a billion-dollar aftermarket. While there has been a multitude of events and products that subsequently created that aftermarket , there is—arguably—one moment that undoubtedly acted as a catalyst. In February of 2005, Jeff Staple introduced the world to the Nike Dunk SB Low Staple “NYC Pigeon”. The name is synonymous to hype culture, to camp outs and limited edition drops. What ensued after its release has been well documented through news outlets and word-of-mouth stories. It allowed the mainstream to glimpse into a world often times reserved for a small community of connoisseurs, bloggers, and collectors.
Now, RTFKT has collaborated with Jeff Staple to bring forth that momentum created 16 years ago and put it to the forefront of the digital age. Donned as the Meta-Pigeon drop, the partnership allows different worlds to merge effortlessly as parallels between the two are shared when it comes to the innovation and game-changing drops that both entities created within their respective markets.
What started off as admiration from both parties, evolved into a full-blown collaboration that brought a one-of-a-kind release into fruition. In a conversation between Nice Kicks and co-founder Chris Le, he explains the process and the nature of the relationship; the entire process took approximately two months with sketches as the starting point, Le explains, “we went back and forth with concept[s]. I would concept all the drawings, send them to Jeff to get approvals”. Le goes on to explain the liberty they had with designs while incorporating the iconic Pigeon, “what was dope is he let us go super crazy on the sneaker design to match our aesthetic for RTFKT”. An aesthetic that has garnered millions of views, collaborations, and NFT sneaker drops that can then be redeemed for physical copies of their digital counterparts.
“The physical sneaker will be based off of the digital NFT. We have a technique where we can actually make the sneaker look almost one to one with the 3D look of the NFT”.Chris Le
Designer Chris Le continues to describe in detail their collaboration and how “purchasing the NFT will give you direct access to a physical pair”.
The process—which is kept secret—allows a near identical copy of the aforementioned digital collection.
Much like sneaker releases, RTFKT allows buyers to hold their NFT for a period of six weeks in which they can trade, or resell as an aftermarket product. The virtual sneaker can then be ‘forged’ and redeemed for a physical pair, he explains their goal is “sustaining the secondary market” thus creating hype, similar to that of the Nike Dunk SB Low Staple “NYC Pigeon” used as reference.
The RTFKT x Jeff Staple Meta-Pigeon collection is composed of three different products; of the three, two NFT virtual sneakers will be released within a 15-minute “Open Edition” timeframe to ensure availability to those interested. Both sneakers have contrasting color schemes and different rarities that also reflect their respective price points. The first of the two, is the Purple iteration which dons a “Legendary” rarity with a price tag of $2021. The second White model acts as a simplified version of its counterpart. With a “Rare” rarity, the white colorway is slightly more affordable at $500. Both silhouettes share similarities with the biggest being the iconic STAPLE Pigeon imposed onto its lateral heel.
The third and final product comes in the form of a collectable NFT cyber pigeon adequately named, “Metapigeon VR”. This “Legendary” product will be available in limited quantities—100 copies—but will be priced at $1.00 for those interested in the collaboration but not willing to spend.
As the Metaverse space continues to grow, we can expect to see more collaborations in the future where the physical world goes virtual. For now, be sure to catch the RTFKT x Jeff Staple Meta-Pigeon collection that is set to drop this May 6th at Noon PST.
Jeff Staple x RTFKT Studios Meta-Pigeon
Release Date: May 6, 2021
Price: $500 (Jeff Staple x RTFKT Studios Meta-Pigeon “Rare”)
Price: $2021 (Jeff Staple x RTFKT Studios Meta-Pigeon “Legendary”)