Footwear Goes Digital: Exploring NFT Sneakers

RTFKT Studios / Michael Caloca / ONE37pm

The 21st century has witnessed the hobby of collecting fashion transition from a fringe pursuit to a heated competition among wealthy collectors. This change in mentality is fueled by the availability of rare and exclusive fashion collectibles on digital marketplaces, facilitating instant bragging rights on social media. 

With the increasing digitalization of our personal lives, digital fashion is also evolving rapidly. Non-Fungible Tokens, popularly called NFTs, are the latest buzz in the digital collectible world, crossing $2 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2021—a gigantic 2000% increase from the preceding quarter. With the growing popularity of NFTs, fashion brands worldwide have been taking notice of the business possibilities that are arising in the booming world of cryptocurrency. 

The advent of the fashion metaverse has more people looking for creative ways to express themselves by dressing up their digital avatars. Despite the lack of a physical product, people are finding deep satisfaction in adding fashion collectibles to the list of their digital assets. The sale and purchase are carried out exclusively between the creator and the buyer, and the transaction is verified through blockchain technology. Once the transaction is complete, the buyer acquires exclusive ownership over the digital asset, since all NFTs are unique and no two NFTs are alike.  

This desire for uniqueness and exclusivity has paved the way for fashion brands to leverage NFTs to create virtual products and generate revenue. The trend of owning digital collectibles has also made its way into the footwear space, and brands are beginning to launch limited-edition sneakers with blockchain-managed ownership. 

Finding the NFT opportunity too lucrative to give up, here are the top sneaker brands that are exploring newer horizons as a new fashion metaverse marks its arrival. 

RTFKT has finally emerged out of the shadows after working underground as an undefined collective for several years. Known for providing futuristic designs and concepts to game companies and fashion brands, the collective has now expanded their services into the public meta-market, after three friends founded RTFKT Studios in January 2020. 

Boasting extensive manufacturing experience combined with blockchain authentication and augmented reality, RTFKT’s mission is to create unique sneakers and digital artifacts, that include memes and collectible exclusives. In March 2021, RTFKT collaborated with an 18-year-old artist, Fewocious, to hold an NFT sale of digital sneakers, raking in over $3 million in under seven minutes. After recently raising $8 million in a seed funding round, RTFKT looks to continue playing a role in shaping the future of fashion and commerce in the virtual world. 


Diving into the endless possibilities offered by the NFT market, CryptoKickers is well on its way to creating a gaming platform where sneaker-lovers can create, customize and mint their own NFT sneakers. CryptoKickers’ unique and funky designs aiming straight for the metaverse got them the first-ever completely virtual shoe deal with NBA veteran Wilson Chandler. 

The organization aims to make sneaker transaction seamless through its incorporation of the blockchain Solana, in association with Metaplex. Once the transaction is complete, the buyer retains complete ownership of the virtual sneakers, enabling them to customize attributes such as color, shape, design and text. These customized sneakers could then be resold on the same marketplace, or platforms such as Airdrop and Hodl. 

Capitalizing on the growing trend of owning virtual sneakers, CryptoKickers is already luring sneaker enthusiasts from the physical resale market to the sneaker metaverse.    

SNKR Project by Arc Footwear

nft sneakers snkr wars
Arc Footwear

Leading the pack of innovative ideas in building a virtual fashion metaverse is Arc Footwear with their brand-new venture, the SNKR Project. The firm is led by an expert team of marketers, developers, creators and technologists, mutually sharing passion for manga comics and cyberpunk fantasy art, merged with an obsession for sneaker design. 

After reaching tremendous growth in the physical sneaker market with placement in over 270 stores, the eclectic organization is launching a limited-edition sneaker-backed NFT digital card pack on the network, one of the most sophisticated NFT trading platforms out there. 

The digitally trade-able card pack will be supplemented by SNKR Tokens, SNKR WARS digital game, and a groundbreaking DeFi NFT fashion metaverse, set to be launched in 2022. The campaign’s uniqueness lies in offering the customers full ownership of digital collectibles, such as the NFT card pack backed by limited physical product, a gaming platform, and one of the first ever fashion metaverses. 

Through the digital game, called SNKR WARS, players will battle for SNKR tokens, which are then used to purchase add-on characteristics for the trading cards. After each SNKR Wars digital trading card NFT Drop, the player will have the opportunity to choose between a sneaker and a robot asset to create their minted, highly customizable NFT trading card. The brand is allowing people to realize the full potential in accruing profit through secondary market opportunities, and by merely looking at their future plans in the crypto-world, it is certain that they are just getting started.


With sneaker brands entering the virtual fashion ecosystem, the age of digital flexing is here. Soon enough, the digital avatars of countless online players will don digital sneakers, which would be trade-able and perhaps, transferable across different gaming platforms. Despite the enthusiasm around NFTs, a common concern among consumers is spending extensive amounts of money for a product that is only available as a digital asset, not backed by a physical product. Several sneaker brands realize the importance and attachment of physical products among customers that will always exist, and many will possibly fabricate real-world samples of their digital sneaker designs—as was the case with RTFKT's CryptoPunks collaboration. As the fashion metaverse gains more popularity in the world of social media, an exhilarating future awaits creativity and innovation in the digital footwear space.

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