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Benoit Pagotto: Fashion Brands Are Getting Community Building Wrong

At the BoF Professional Summit, RTFKT’s co-founder explained why he agreed to sell to Nike in 2021, and unpacked how brands can leverage web3 and associated technologies to grow their communities.
Benoit Pagotto.
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“A lot of brands are getting it wrong — they need to stop thinking about their business and ask instead: ‘What can I do for my community?’” said Benoit Pagotto, co-founder of virtual fashion start-up RTFKT Studios.

Pagotto added that fashion brands need to invest in incentivising individuals to build an engaged community in the long run.

Giving people access to digital assets or tokens such as NFTs, which can increase in value over time, helps customers feel they are contributing to a brand’s growth story, he explained, but adding that brands also need a new mindset.

“The word ‘consumer’ is over,” he said, noting how the democratising nature of the web3 “has shifted power to the individual, and now brands’ communities will define their value.”

Key Insights:

  • Co-founded by Benoit Pagotto at the beginning of the pandemic as a virtual fashion platform, RTFKT was acquired by Nike in December 2021, marking the sportswear giant’s most significant push into the metaverse.
  • In late April, the two companies revealed their first product: a pair of virtual Nike Dunk sneakers, whose look owners can change with different digital skins.
  • Pagotto believes that building and engaging communities is a long-term endeavour that requires customer incentivisation.

Additional Resources:

The BoF Professional Summit is made possible in part through our partners Coinbase, McKinsey & Company, Joor, Brandlive and The Invisible Collection.

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The State of Fashion: Technology
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The State of Fashion: Technology