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Jun 3, 2022

Clone X: Unpacked

Jack Burt
Jack Burt


You wake up one day and three aliens are standing before your bed — according to them, they've come to help you evolve past organic form, noetically download your consciousness onto the cloud, and explore space embodied as a digital, free-form avatar. This is, effectively (with some embellishment,) the lore behind Clone X, a 20,000 item NFT collection that boasts avatars designed in collaboration with Takashi Murakami.

Lore aside — with 205k Eth volume traded, Clone X ranks #7 in terms of the most volume traded out of any collection on OpenSea. They are a giant within this industry, and their 12.5 Eth floor price (which has, on occasion, scraped multiples above that) is a symbolic testament to the space they take up.


However, we believe, in order to truly appreciate what Clone X has achieved (aside from just the numbers,) one has to comprehensively unpack the actors behind the scenes: what’s RTFKT’s deal? Who’s Murakami? How’s Nike involved? And, what does it means for their holders?


What RTFKT is trying to accomplish could easily be misunderstood by folks outside of crypto. Founded in 2020, their self-summary reads: “We are a creator led organisation. RTFKT uses the latest in game engines, NFT, blockchain authentication and augmented reality, combined with manufacturing expertise to create one of a kind sneakers and digital artifacts” — but, imagine reading that to your parents and trying to convince them this is the next big thing.

The simplest way we can conceptualize RTFKT is: they’re trying to bridge/balance the world of art and fashion with the world of crypto and gaming. Balance is one of the keywords there — they don’t want to merely be a fashion brand, nor do they want to be just another ‘metaverse brand’.

An encapsulating example of RTFKT’s balancing act came with their early FEWOCiOUS Collaboration where they dropped custom sneakers both physically and virtually as NFTs. Not only did the FEWOCiOUS shoes sell out within ten minutes, but also, at their peak in October, they were going for ~16 Eth minimum. Undoubtedly, RTFKT knew they were on to something with this straddling of two worlds.


Murakami & Clone X

Not long after their earlier sneaker releases, RTFKT managed to link up with Takashi Murakami for their next world-straddling project, except this time it was going to be digital avatars. In hindsight, Murakami was the perfect guy for the job, a world-class artist who’s worked with various mediums; everything from painting to sculpture to animation — plus, he’s known for bridging high-art and low-art subcultures — a complementary fit to RTFKT’s acute interest in the areas in between.


Perhaps, on the surface, Clone X might not appear all that different from the rest — an identity-based avatar play with bells and whistles — however, the fact that Clone X avatars are 3D compatible is noteworthy — by giving you access to the 3D files behind the Clone X art, they’re encouraging holders to explore other strands of the metaverse, all the while garnering self-promotion for their community.


Of course, Clone X wasn’t without its hiccups (specifically, the mint/auction) — but, on an aesthetic level it didn’t take long for them to click with a broader audience. The artwork was implicitly flipping the finger at minimalist, 2D pixel art, everything from shape to color to clothing strongly suggested that they’d be competitive in the fashion landscape. This was affirmed in December 2021, shortly after releasing Clone X when RTFKT was bought out by Nike.

Nike & RTFKT

Sometimes a large company buying out a smaller niche company can mean the death of the smaller company’s ingenuity. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case with Nike’s buyout of RTFKT. On the contrary, it appears to have been a symbiotic buyout; it gave Nike a chance to spread their wings into web3 and it gave RTFKT a massive push into mainstream markets. We see this with the MNLTH airdrop, a sort of virtual care-package for Clone X holders that through a quest series was later unlocked and revealed to contain ‘RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks’, a Skin Vial (to customize the CryptoKicks), and a second MNLTH vault.


While you may not be able to wear them in real life, The RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks are wearable in various virtual settings, like Snapchat filters and NIKELAND (Nike’s take on the metaverse.) Perhaps the use-case is still ahead of its time, but for one thing, the CryptoKicks further solidified Clone X holders’ faith in RTFKT and simultaneously caught the attention of the fashion world — VogueBusiness said “the popularity and hype surrounding the mysterious MNLTH, even before Friday’s [CryptoKicks] drop, is a testament to the trust that RTFKT has instilled within its following.”

It Keeps Coming

Of course, MNLTH and the CryptoKicks are just a portion of the added value that RFKT has supplied Clone X holders with. They’ve also dropped Space Pods through OnCyber, a sort of virtual bachelor-pad-meets-art-gallery that can be decorated with your favorite NFTs. Additionally, Clone X holders have had special access to a number of adjacent NFT collections like Murakami Flowers.


And not only is the broader metaverse being built out day by day (worlds in which Clone X avatars will be able to flex their digital identity,) but also, Clone X holders have the reveal of MNLTH 2 still to look forward to — which, keep in mind, Nike still has trademarks for a crypto wallet, marketplace, token, and more — things could get spicy at any moment.

Needless to say, Clone X is not just another pfp project — it’s a complex market-blending vision that, when taken in the context of its webbed connection to RTFKT and Nike, demands pause, patience, and understanding.

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. This article is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. Do your own research. See Flip’s Terms of Service for more details.

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