How Nike's .SWOOSH Platform is Aiming to Switch Up the Sneaker Industry
With its first-ever virtual sneaker collection just gone live, Nike’s Ron Faris explains how .SWOOSH will use Web3 co-creation to define the future of performance footwear.
.SWOOSH is a new Web3 movement and community in the sneaker world that already has more than 330,000 members. It’s the place where all-new virtual creations will be held and where projects designed for the current digital generation can be accessed, removing the barriers of physical products while leveraging the virtual technology that is shaping the future of sport.
Now, .SWOOSH’s very first collection has been presented, with Nike unveiling one of its most famous silhouettes, the Air Force 1, in a drop model different from your average — beginning with two digital boxes: the “Classic Remix” and the “New Wave.”
Members who get their hands on one of their favorite classics will either receive an archive AF1 released between 1982 to 2006, or it could even be a custom Air Force 1 with a nostalgic twist. In the “New Wave Box,” members could unlock a classic archive from 2007 or later, while each box is also designed with the four Your Force 1 winners, which are virtual sneakers designed by .SWOOSH community members.
.SWOOSH members will then be alerted when they can open their new box and discover which Our Force One 1 shoe it contains. Each virtual sneaker will come paired with a 3D file that the owner can download and use to express themselves and in the future, .SWOOSH will also introduce other utilities and benefits, such as exclusive physical products and experiences.
“The Our Force 1 collection shows how Nike will continue to innovate at the intersection of play and culture for the future of sports,” Ron Faris, of Nike Virtual Studios said. “We are exploring new ways to tell stories and create relationships while removing the barriers and limitations of a physical product, with more members choosing to express themselves across physical and digital worlds .SWOOSH is the marketplace of our future.”
Now, having just gone live, .SWOOSH looks to define what the future of virtual footwear looks like. With further plans to expand its mainline of footwear offerings, Hypebeast caught up with Nike’s Ron Faris to find out more about the platform, what it means for the future of footwear, and more.
“Our mission is to create inspiration and innovation for every athlete in the world.”
Hypebeast: How did the idea of .SWOOSH come to life?
Ron Faris: From our perspective, we back to the values that we have at .swoosh. We wanted to democratize community and co-creation. When you think about what Nike silhouette comes to mind, no silhouette better interprets the most democratic or expressiveness than the Air Force 1.
So, we started from our heritage, the place where we can explore some of the past stories of the Air Force 1. We allowed our members to vote on what they thought was the most important Air Force 1, then the community inspired where we wanted to take the silhouette with .swoosh.
They inspired us to be able to take the AF1 in a different direction, both in its aesthetic and its expression of how it comes to life, as well as through its utility and benefits to the member.
Have you got plans to work with other Nike silhouettes going forward?
We can’t share what other silhouettes will be coming as of yet, but I can promise you that we will be expanding to other silhouettes as time goes on. I think we’re still in the test-and-learn phase while we learn what people engage with the most. We’re also learning about how we can provide things that allow people to engage on a much deeper level, a level that you wouldn’t be able to achieve through a physical product.
How much of the future do you think AI will dictate?
It’s a little early to figure out how AI will factor into this right now, but our whole thesis is about democratizing access to co-creation. We’re taking our approach to how to do that by finding new ways to tell stories and create relationships that are accessible to as large of a community as possible. Some of the efforts that we’re doing through Air Force 1 challenges are discovering ways in which members can co-create. As tools become more stable as our journey unfolds, we will find new ways in which the platform can evolve.
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How important is innovation and evolution to Nike?
Honestly, it’s everything to us. For 50 years we’ve been innovating regardless of where the market landscape is. Our mission is to create inspiration and innovation for every athlete in the world.
This is our effort in creating a digital marketplace for the future, which is powered by digital, which harmonizes products, experiences, and services in new ways which meet the consumer where they are. We use these pioneering technologies to break through, tell stories, and build communities. This is probably the most exciting thing that makes Nike different than everybody else.
How will .SWOOSH help build a community outside of the platform?
I think that our community is extremely passionate and this is giving us a new way to tell deeper and richer stories, through using new technology. We hope that this new opportunity will unlock co-creation so that our members can co-create the future of sport with us and help shape that culture in new and interesting ways.
Our way of how we’re looking to provide this marketplace in the future meets the consumer where they are but allows them to benefit alongside them. We feel that the presence of this new opportunity will take our members much further than what physical products can do and it allows us to go deeper with new stories.