RTFKT: Defining Art x Fashion in the Age of NFTs

In a matter of months after the launch, RTFKT added a myriad of big names to their collaborations, ranging a wide scope of worlds, from Atari to AI robot rapper Meka, and from digital artist FEWOCiOUS to Lexus. While officially born in the early months of the pandemic in January 2020, the founders of RTFKT worked with gaming platforms and fashion brands independently for years. It explains how Steven Vasilev, Benoit Pagotto and Chris Le managed to shoot from relative obscurity to omnipresent success in less than a year. But what is it exactly they do to attract all this attention?

“We are a brand from the future: NFT-focused but with a physical aspect”, says Pagotto, although he firmly believes that digital items will be more valuable than physical possessions in the future. With a degree in fine art and a self-proclaimed “art-geek”, the RTFKT co-founder brings years of experience working in luxury fashion and esports, namely as a brand manager at the notable esports company Fnatic. “At first, we would twin all the physical creations with an NFT, as we didn’t think people were ready just yet to purely buy the NFTs. With COVID, everything changed – we shifted all the priority to NFTs. Something we thought would only happen two years from now.” Pagotto adds.

RTFKT is specialised in creating digital wearables and other collectibles for the virtual worlds. “We work with everyone – metaverses such as Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, Sandbox; game studios on some implementations. Our philosophy is simple: “instead of thinking of how we could be in five years, we look at what we could do now, and we do it”, Pagotto says. RTFKT is particularly known for its kicks. Approximately twice a month, the team drops a range of sneakers as wearable NFTs, often designed in collaboration with some of the aforementioned names, which never fail to sell out in minutes. The collaboration with FEWOCiOUS sold out in a mere 7 minutes for a whopping 3.1 million dollars and the latest Space Drip features a special easter egg by Paris Hilton.

Despite the global rush for digital items, RTFKT stays ahead of the analogue world as much as the digital; Each of the FEWO sneakers digital wearables came with a physical pair. They also teamed up with the co-founder of fashion brand Who Decides War, Ev Bravado, for an NFT drop of jeans that comes with the physical denim sent to each lucky buyer. The latest drop sold for 5.94 ETH ($10,852)!

Beyond making the headlines with its newest creations, RTFKT is creator-driven at its core and giving back to the community plays a big role. The team works with emerging talent to guide them towards becoming sustainable artists. Pagotto mentions that “one of the biggest challenges is staying super innovative and working with the best creators”. Whether showing how minting works, covering gas fees or commissioning work, RTFKT understands that investing back into the creative community will help the overall industry to thrive for the years to come. 

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