When Nike announced in late 2021 that it had acquired Web3 content developer RTFKT Studios, the news went right under the noses of the sneaker and apparel brand’s most die-hard fans. But the wider Web3 community took notice — particularly those tuned into the NFT space. With this new acquisition, Nike made its intent to carve a name for itself on the metaverse clear. The first step toward that lofty goal? NFTs.
Today, thanks to the rapidly-growing CloneX NFT collection that launched in November 2021, it looks like Nike may reproduce its IRL cultural capital on Web3. In spite of the hype Nike and RTFKT have been building through their numerous NFT drops over the past months, CloneX’s legitimacy looks to be anything but hyperbole. A combination of factors came together to enable the NFT community at large to embrace this new project with open arms.
The state of Nike in NFTs
When legacy brands — especially luxury ones — enter this new territory, they tend to do so with a splash. Nike’s been no exception, as evidenced by the drops that new acquisition RTFKT has been pumping into the space. While the new tandem did their first NFT drop in February 2022, their best work was yet to come.
Starting in April 2022, RTFKT’s has brought virtual, officially licensed Nike sneakers into the NFT market: the CryptoKicks NFT collection. Sneaker culture has taken a notoriously speculative direction in recent years, so it only makes sense that there’s a growing crossover between sneakerheads and the NFT faithful.
In recognition of that crossover, with Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT also came the acquisition of its CloneX NFT avatar collection, which launched a month before news of the acquisition became public knowledge.
But what exactly is a CloneX NFT?
Let’s start with what CloneX isn’t. Contrary to what Google search results might lead you to believe, the CloneX name doesn’t just refer to a manufacturer of rooting gels, cloning solutions, and other industrial solvents. It’s also an NFT collection.
Nike and RTFKT’s CloneX NFT collection consists of 20,000 3D avatar NFTs called “Clones” designed with a specific focus in mind. Each Clone in the collection is turnkey, ready for the metaverse from the start, as the collection marks the first piece in Nike and RTFKT’s intended metaverse ecosystem.
I’m in. So how do I buy a CloneX NFT?
Currently, the best way to pick up a Clone of your own is by perusing OpenSea. As of writing, the collection features a floor price of 6.4 ETH — roughly $8,500 according to recent valuations. While you can try to partially buy your way in via purchasing a fraction of a Clone, you may not be able to enjoy the full extent of utilities planned for these NFTs. It’ll simply be an investment on your part.
An inclusive collection
But what makes CloneX truly special isn’t the utility its developers intend for it. CloneX also takes substantial steps forward within the NFT space in providing as many different kinds of people as possible with the commensurate NFT avatars to represent them in the virtual world. The level of inclusion that the CloneX team has imbued its collection with goes beyond just race and biological sex.
Each of the 20,000 CloneX NFT avatars falls into one of eight subtypes, or “DNA types.” Roughly half of all CloneX NFTs are classified as human, three-tenths as robots, and angels, demons, reptiles, and undeads filling up the remaining two-tenths of the total supply. With the Human CloneX DNA type, a tiny fraction possess the “vitiligo” trait — the same skin disorder that saw Michael Jackson sport a glove throughout the 80s, and bleached skin for the rest of his life. However, unlike the late King of Pop, CloneX NFTs with Vitiligo skins will wear them loud and proud — perhaps as a bit of affirmation for any CloneX holders who need that extra push to be comfortable in their own skin.
For those counting, you might notice that we’ve just listed six DNA types so far. We’ve saved the two rarest DNA types in the CloneX collection for last, so stay put.
The rarest Clones
Let’s start off with Murakami clones. No, not sad existential novelist Murakami. We’re talking about Japanese pop art sensation Takashi Murakami. When the artist collaborated with the Clone X team for a drop in late 2021, he singlehandedly raised the project’s profile from a “great NFT project” into a “potential funnel for mainstream NFT adoption.”
In an interview with Hypebeast, Murakami revealed that he aided the CloneX team in designing traits representing eyes, mouths, helmets, and clothes for several new generative PFP avatar NFTs slated to be added to the original 20,000.
To help commemorate the legendary artist’s collaboration, CloneX then added an entirely new DNA subtype into the Clone pool: Murakami clones. These esteemed Clones make up a mere 0.5 percent of all Clone NFTs currently in circulation.
As of writing, the most expensive Clone sold so far on the market sported a Murakami DNA subtype. CloneX #4594 sold for 450 ETH on OpenSea in late 2021 — that’s worth nearly $600,000 as of writing.
In spite of that, Murakami Clones are just the second-rarest DNA subtype in the collection. Taking that honor is the Alien DNA subtype. A mere 0.15 percent of all Clones in circulation possess this DNA subtype, with the priciest Alien Clone selling for 88.88 ETH in December 2021.