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Why Asics Is Auctioning Off NFT Footwear

Though digital fashion might continue to confound some consumers, Asics is betting that true brand fans are eager to pony up for a piece of the action.

On Thursday, the Japanese sneaker maker will digitally auction off a 189-piece Sunrise Red NFT Collection composed of some of its most popular silhouettes. The drop’s nine styles will be available in a limited-edition color with 20 non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, per shoe, while just one token per shoe is offered for items bearing a special gold color way, Asics said.

The NFT collection spans seven sneaker styles, including the Gel-Quantum 360, Gel-Lyte III, Gel-Resolution 8, Metaracer, Metarise, Metaspeed Sky, and Metasprint, in addition to flip-flops and a pair of sandals.

NFTs exploded onto the scene earlier this year, infiltrating the art world and then moving on to other assets like sneakers. Consumers who increasingly live the most meaningful parts of their lives online seems to appreciate being able to prove via an NFT, a unique digital asset accessible and able to be authenticated on a secure blockchain database, their exclusive ownership over a given—often coveted—item.

The athletic world has taken note of the interest surrounding NFTs. Adidas recruited digital fashion house The Fabricant, along with longtime collaborator Karlie Kloss, to execute a campaign supporting the supermodel’s activewear launch with the German brand. What’s more, some believe fashion that exists exclusively in bits and bytes represents a more sustainable evolution of style by circumventing physical production that drives the waste issue plaguing the industry.

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Joe Pace, who heads up business development for Asics’ running apps, noted the company’s efforts to stay on the “forefront of innovation in the sporting goods sector.”

“So, while we are excited to drop the world’s first digital shoe release from a major sporting goods company, this is only the beginning,” he added. “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’ newly launched Digital Goods Artist-In-Residence Program, which will benefit from the auction’s proceeds, will comprise both established and emerging digital artists, the company said. Participants face the task of using Asics’ ‘Sound Body, Sound Mind’ mantra as inspiration for conjuring up digital goods reflecting that corporate ethos, it added.

Successful bidders in the digital auction, running from July 15-19 on the OpenSea.io blockchain marketplace, will walk away with 3D models and textures of their digital NFT footwear, which Asics said can be incorporated into not just animation projects but applications like the Metaverse—a term describing a collective virtual shared space spanning virtual worlds, augmented reality and the internet, by some accounts.

Those who purchase one-off Gold Edition NFTs or the first shoe in each 20-item batch will also get a future NFT from an artist picked for the residency program, Asics said.