RTFKT Studios, a virtual fashion collective, has made no secret of its desire to infuse a sense of “hype” into the world of NFTs. When reports came in of their foray into virtual fashion last January, they billed themselves as a “new era Supreme, for a digital audience,” and outlined their ambitious objectives for a series of high-profile partners throughout the year.
Since then, sales for virtual sneakers with crypto-artist Fewocious and designer Jeff Staple have raised $3.1 million USD in just seven minutes. But the brand has just unveiled its most prestigious collaborator as date: Takashi Murakami, a Japanese artist who has teamed up with RTFKT on a high-profile crypto-art project that will debut in November of this year. The two are collaborating on a series of “Avatars,” or 20,000 digitally created 3D avatars, each with a unique set of pre-designed attributes. Murakami supplied drawings for the characters’ eyes, helmets, mouths, outfits, and traits, including elements of his well-known cartoonish aesthetic.
The project is a direct tribute to Larva Labs’ CrytoPunks series, which was one of the first NFT initiatives in 2017. The randomized creation of the characters, like that of the original work, resulted in some of the rarest combinations of features, which RTFKT hopes will become potential collector’s items. RTFKT’s Avatars, unlike that of CryptoPunks’, will be completely 3D rigged models, allowing their owners to utilize them in games, or as AR filters on camera and in Zoom meetings. Takashi Murakami is no stranger to cross-cultural collaborations: in addition to his well-publicized collaborations with Kanye West and Virgil Abloh, he has recently given his designs to anything from tennis rackets to plain t-shirts. RTFKT, for one, describes Murakami as a long-time “idol” of theirs. “Having Murakami, our favorite artist, collaborate with us on these avatars and share our vision is the most incredible thing we could have imagined,” they shared in one statement.