Nike, the largest sportswear apparel brand, has made another major technology move. It recently launched a web3-enabled platform called .SWOOSH, which will house a global digital community, Nike virtual creations and unique digital experiences to pave the way for the future of sport. Nike’s goal with building .SWOOSH is to explore a new era of sport and expand its purpose to align with digital natives and democratise the web3 experience. Sport centres around community and this platform flips
ips traditional models on its head and places co-creation and ownership in the hands of its fans.
.SWOOSH is currently in beta. Nike fans in select countries can register to join the platform and receive an access code or join the waitlist. Upon signing up, members will be provided with a .SWOOSH ID and a BitGo crypto wallet. The platform is built using blockchain technology on the Polygon network and has its own domain: welcome.swoosh.nike, to ensure a safe and trusted space.
As a member of the platform, users will be able to trade interactive digital objects such as virtual shoes and jerseys, and eventually take part in co-creating future drops. Nike aims to give members greater flexibility in using virtual objects in digital games and immersive experiences. This will extend into physical spaces in some instances, for members to unlock access to physical products and exclusive events.
In early 2023, the first digital collection for the platform will be released, which will be shaped by its members. Following the initial collection, .SWOOSH members will be able to enter a community challenge for the chance to co-create virtual products alongside Nike.
“We are shaping a marketplace of the future with an accessible platform for the web3-curious. In this new space, the .SWOOSH community and Nike can create, share, and benefit together,” GM of Nike Virtual Studios Ron Faris says.
While .SWOOSH gains momentum and onboards small groups of members during the beta phase, Nike is hosting physical events around the US to educate web3 enthusiasts about the new platform by sharing information and resources. The seminars and workshops dubbed .SWOOSH Sessions focus on raising awareness of memberships, products, collaborative projects, and how members can get involved.
Exploring a new frontier
In 2021, Nike acquired RTFKT, a web3-native luxury brand and community. For the past 12 months, the RTFKT team has been creating some of the most popular non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the world. From Nike-branded digital sneakers to augmented reality-activated physical hoodies. However, Nike doesn’t claim to be experts in web3 and .SWOOSH is its way of bringing everyone on the journey to learn and co-create together.
In the Frequently Asked Questions part of the .SWOOSH website, Nike states that .SWOOSH and RTFKT are two different projects and will explore collaborations in the future when it aligns with their members. The .SWOOSH platform is designed to support co-creation with members and highlights education and inclusion.
This humble approach speaks volumes about Nike as a brand, admitting its people are learning alongside the brand’s community and are excited to invest in a web3 platform, share information and opportunities to co-create and set a new standard in brand engagement.
.SWOOSH hasn’t been called a metaverse. Yet it’s being built using cutting-edge technology often associated with building a metaverse – of which many people are sceptical. But this is an accurate representation of Nike and the way it innovates: constantly exploring new frontiers, whether in its products or stores, collaborations with athletes or translating the Nike experience into new and untried realms.
Diverging from the competition
There’s no doubt Nike is often ahead of the curve. But in this instance, it is behind Adidas in its efforts to build a metaverse and sell digital fashion – although it seems Nike is offering very different experiences to Adidas. Nike and .SWOOSH are focusing heavily on educating its community and ensuring it is inclusive and safe.
Over at Adidas, management jumped in early. The brand has attracted a significant portion of people who are truly immersed in web3 culture, having launched a partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club, GMoney and Punks Comic. Furthermore, Adidas recently launched Virtual Gear, its first collection of digital apparel, called The Genesis Collection, and includes reimagined styles fit for virtual worlds and the metaverse.
Those who own non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, or Inhabitants (MetaHero) collections can purchase items from The Genesis Collection and style their NFT profile pic (PFP) avatar with the virtual gear.
Competition at this point is irrelevant though; the two largest sports apparel companies are creating unique web3 experiences, which will eventually enter mainstream adoption. At that point, Nike and Adidas will be centre-stage, alongside NFT brands such as Deadfellaz, World of Women, Bored Ape Yacht Club and Adam Bomb Squad. All offering highly engaging hybrid experiences that take brand engagement to an entirely new level of value and loyalty.
Nike’s community-centred approach involves visiting cities around the US hosting web3 conversations. The brand invites people who know very little about the space and builds connections with experts and creatives who are well versed in web3 environments.
A decade ago, it would have been strange to see a global apparel brand like Nike push emerging technology into mainstream media. However, the potential of web3 is too great to ignore and in this case offers immense value to consumer brands. This is one project to follow closely.