Written by Kajal Iyer
The obsession with cool footwear, perhaps dates back to the days of Hermes and his Talaria. Maybe the winged sandals of Greek mythology were precursors to the many cool footwear iterations in Sci-Fi movies - with Marty McFly’s sneakers being some of the most famous ones. In the 80’s and 90’s, many stars, sports and film, were famous for owning walk-in shoe closets. That’s the level of obsession, culturally, shoes have enjoyed. But of late, this hobby has gone virtual too. The latest thing in the market are NFTs for sneakers.
What's an NFT?
Now what are NFTs, you may ask. An NFT (non-fungible token) is data added to a file that creates a unique signature. It can be an image file, a song, a tweet, a text posted on a website, a physical item, and various other digital formats. NFTs are now traded online and people buy and sell interest in a collectible or a digital piece of art. Sneakers, physical or digital designs, are one of the latest trends in NFTs.
With the Metaverse, NFTs are expected to grow manifold. Brands like Nike and Adidas have already ventured into the NFT era, putting up their designs on the NFT market and even partnering with digital sneaker designer companies. In late 2021, Nike acquired RTFKT, an NFT sneaker design company. The industry leader described the acquisition as “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.”
RTFKT has also worked closely with one of the brands Poocho helped craft – Neustreet. Neustreet describes itself as “the world’s trusted destination on media, data analytics on collectibles.” RTFKT helped create a series of collectibles marketed by Neustreet under the name Genesis NFT. When Poocho entered the virtual world of sneakers, trying to build a brand identity for Neustreet, the idea was to get into the journey of the collector who invested in NFTs. "At the end of the day, we really needed to get into the minds of the people that were using the underlying platforms,” said Eric Witschen, GM and Founder, Neustreet. And that is exactly what Poocho did.
After analysing 320 photos and videos around the NFT consumer journey, studying 5 likely competitors of Neustreet and looking in-depth at 39 customer journey experiences, Poocho developed a model of two customer personas for Neustreet and also devised the futuristic and forward-looking Pink Uptick logo that exemplifies the brand. The world of NFT sneakers is only looking up.
Why virtual sneakers, though?
“Most of my friends who are sneakerheads aren’t actually wearing their sneakers,” says John Crain, the co-founder of digital art marketplace SuperRare, in a chat with GQ Magazine. “What do they do with their sneakers? They post pictures up on Instagram and then they go into a closet. The value of the sneaker is in its digital cache.” The charm of owning an NFT seems to be that of having bragging rights, the way one would if one had an original Picasso. The best part about owning an NFT though, is that one doesn’t need a mansion with a fireplace to hang the Picasso or space enough for a walk-in shoe closet.
So while Nike may have developed a real world version of Marty McFly’s sneakers, Hermes’ Talaria is still not a physical reality, nor are the Gravity boots from Jupiter Ascending. But who knows, you may own an NFT of these designs before the actual shoes become a reality. Our only grouse, we don’t see any good NFTs for female fashionistas and footwear enthusiasts. Cinderella NFT anyone?