A Jumpman's a Jumpman, whether you're leaping towards a basketball hoop or out of the Battle Bus.
While Nike's physical release of the beloved Air Jordan IX Cool Grey isn't slated until December 11, the sneaker has already made its debut in the metaverse. Nike has partnered with Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, to introduce a new line of Jordan wearables to the game, all inspired by the Cool Greys' icy hues. The collaboration also features an in-game interactive experience called the Jumpman Zone, where players can practice their trick shots to earn Jordan-branded skins.
The Jumpman Zone itself is a visually striking environment, featuring a grayscale galactic landscape and indoor spaces with hoop-lined white walls and a giant tower of stacked Jordan shoeboxes. It's a highly conceptual space that perfectly complements the Cool Greys' aesthetic.
Nike and Fortnite's partnership isn't their first. In 2019, the brands released a digital collection of classic red-and-black Jordan gear, including, of course, some Air Jordan Is. Since then, the fashion industry has shown an increasing interest in outfitting avatars in the virtual world. Balenciaga and Fortnite, as well as Stefan Cooke and The Sims, have all collaborated on high-fashion virtual clothing collections. As GQ's Rachel Tashjian noted this week, "[Most] of the fashion world's investments in the metaverse thus far have been through video game skins, which make up an estimated $40 billion a year market." This approach offers a relatively low-cost and sustainable way to engage with the fashion-savvy gaming community and NFT holders, who are eager to spend their money in innovative and disruptive ways.
Nike's presence in the metaverse is a clear indication of the brand's desire to establish a strong foothold in this rapidly evolving digital landscape. As Cathy Hackl, CEO (and Chief Metaverse Officer) of the consultancy Futures Intelligence Group and general metaverse expert, told GQ, "The way young people outfit their avatars is incredibly important to them. Direct-to-avatar is the new direct-to-consumer."
Despite the growing popularity of virtual fashion, one question remains: can sneakers crease in the metaverse? The jury is still out on that one.
Nike and Fortnite's collaboration brings the iconic Air Jordan IX Cool Grey to the metaverse, offering a new way for fans to experience and interact with the beloved sneaker. The Jumpman Zone provides an immersive and engaging environment where players can hone their skills and earn Jordan-branded rewards. This partnership is a testament to the growing importance of fashion in the metaverse, and it's likely that we'll see even more brands entering this space in the years to come.