- Activewear company Asics will auction off its first collection of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as part of a larger bet on the digital arts space, according to an announcement. Executives claim this is the first digital shoe release from a major sporting goods company.
- The 189-piece Asics Sunrise Red NFT Collection is inspired by nine shoe models, including the Gel-Lyte III, Metaracer and Asics flip-flops, each of which has 20 digital copies as well as a single Gold Edition variant in a special metallic-gold colorway.
- Proceeds from the sale of the NFTs, which are being auctioned via OpenSea.io from July 15-19, will be invested back into the digital arts community. Asics is encouraging creators participating in its Digital Goods Artist-In-Residence Program to make new work inspired by the brand's philosophy.
Asics is making its first bet on NFTs with the extensive Sunrise Red collection inspired by nine different shoe models. The brand takes a pay-it-forward approach in redirecting proceeds from the sale of its pieces back into creators, with the goal of getting them to make new art inspired by Asics that could be featured in future collections.
Winners of the auctions will receive a 3D model of their respective footwear as well as textures of the asset to use in animation projects or efforts related to the "Metaverse" — a broad term referencing shared virtual environments, including video games . Establishing a direct line with the burgeoning digital arts community could grant Asics more credibility in an online category that remains fairly niche, but is seeing an influx of marketing activity and investments.
Brands value NFTs because they are unduplicable assets built on blockchain technology. That means they can act as permanent pieces of digital paraphernalia for consumers to own. E.l.f. Cosmetics recently took a similar approach as Asics, converting its most in-demand beauty products into limited-run NFTs that customers could bid on. Stella Artois, General Mills and Domino's Pizza are just a handful of other marketers leaning into the collectible quality of the format to drive engagement.
In Asics' case, the company is signaling it has larger ambitions for NFTs. The value of NFTs has proved highly volatile while the technology itself has generated controversy regarding its environmental impact. Asics views the format as a means to reinforce its "Sound Mind, Sound Body" positioning, but in the digital space.
"[This] is only the beginning," said Joe Pace, head of business development at Asics Running Apps, in a press statement. "In coming together with some of the most creative and forward-thinking digital artists in the world through our new Artist-in-Residence program, our long-term vision is to push the boundaries of digital goods to inspire physical activity."
Asics is coming off headwinds stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the health crisis has led to an uptick in running and at-home fitness. The Japan-based company saw sales drop 13% year-on-year in 2020, according to Business of Fashion.