Are virtual shoe deals the next big thing?
As the NFT market continues to heat up, pro basketball player Wilson Chandler—who played 12 seasons in the NBA before signing with the Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association—has signed a completely virtual shoe deal with NFT-based fashion brand CryptoKickers, Footwear News reports. CryptoKickers stated the deal is the first of its kind.
“As soon as I discovered CryptoKickers, it was a no-brainer to collaborate with them,” Chandler said in a statement. “I’ve been in the crypto space for some time and recently became obsessed with NFTs. I think these guys are positioned to build a Nike-sized fashion business for virtual worlds.”
CryptoKickers and the baller worked together to design the shoes, dubbed the Wilson Chandler 1s, as well as the creative initiatives to support them. The brand confirmed that 21 pairs of the shoes will release today at 11:11 a.m. PT via Cryptokickers.com, and that there will be additional releases.
The shoes are individually numbered and will start at 0.021 Ether, one of a few cryptocurrencies, which converts to roughly $44.07. Prices will increase for pairs with rare traits. CryptoKickers said 11% of each sale will be donated to rainforest preservation nonprofit Cool Earth. As for Chandler, the brand said he will donate all of his proceeds to the nonprofit Benton Harbor Community Development Corporation, which will buy physical shoes for youth in his hometown of Benton Harbor, Michigan. Also, the funds will help secure guest speakers to educate the community on cryptocurrency, NFTs and blockchain technology.
“As we build out the leading footwear brand for the Metaverse, we wanted to find a star athlete with an innovative spirit and style—someone who actually cares about this stuff,” CryptoKickers co-founder Thomas Dimson said in a statement.
CryptoKickers co-founder Joey Flynn added, “Beyond Wilson’s huge impact in the NBA, he is already a big part of the NFT community and is a champion for the technology and ideology behind it all. He was our dream collaborator. We reached out to him over Twitter and within days, a partnership was in place.”
Virtual sneakers have been in the spotlight recently, with RTFKT Studios selling $3.1 million worth of crypto-kicks in minutes last month.