Eagles wide-receiver and college football phenom DeVonta Smith is getting his first-ever line of sneakers — and you can get the chance to meet him, so long as you buy an NFT.
The record-setting wide receiver and Heisman winner is partnering with Web3 footwear brand Endstate on a limited-edition drop of IRL and digital sneakers. What you can expect: a trio of flex-only kicks in colorways inspired by Smith’s style, plus an NFT that you can consider a certificate of authenticity.
In a move that totally does not sound like Fyre Fest founder Billy McFarland’s failed attempt at a social club, sneaker and NFT owners also have the chance to score additional perks: free cheesesteaks, trading cards, a luxury watch, and a meet-and-greet with the two-season Eagles player.
“I take fashion very seriously — I’ve been wearing suits since I got to Alabama for gamedays,” Smith told Billy Penn via email, calling the collab “an opportunity I had to jump at.”
The wide receiver is known as “Sticky Hands” for his ability to catch (and keep) the ball, which serves as inspiration for the sneaker design: Hexagonal detailing on the toebox mimics honeycomb, and drips along the ankle are double entendres, referencing both honey and Smith’s off-the-field looks.
Each pair costs $250 — NFT included — and will be available from today until supplies run out. They come in three distinct colors: Kelly green (because Birds), gold (because sticky honey), and pink and blue, because those are Smith’s favorite colors (as anyone who’s seen his pre-game fits might guess).
Co-founded by Bennett Collen and former Nike and Adidas sneaker designer Stephanie Howard in 2021, Endstate applies blockchain technology to streetwear culture.
For the uninitiated, this means the Boston-based startup creates sneakers with a corresponding non-fungible token that “shows you exactly which pair in the collection you have on your feet,” according to David Filar, director of product and design. Apparently, this is a huge boon for sneaker snobs and resellers because it can inflate the value of your favorite pair of kicks.
In this instance, Endstate’s NFT is a virtual monument of Smith holding his line of sneakers, with banners updated in real time that reflect his performance throughout the season.
“DeVonta is on the upswing of his career … He has the best of hands of any receiver maybe ever in football,” Endstate founder and “lifelong sneakerhead” Collen said about the collab. “He’s also not afraid to buck the status quo and do his own thing, so that made him the perfect fit for the first Endstate athlete.”
Sneaker holders can also wear the shoes virtually. Each version has a QR code that allows them to be worn in a custom Snapchat filter, which is both more and less cool than it sounds. As we careen ever-so-slowly towards a Metaverse future, digital clothing brands like DressX are creating lines of ready-to-wear fashion solely for Mark Zuckerberg’s hellscape, Instagram photos, or TikTok videos.
Still, digital sneakers are not like real ones: You can’t walk (or click) from one platform to another and keep Smith’s sneakers on.
“It’s not as simple as saying, “Oh, here’s this digital object. You can wear it everywhere,’” explained Collen. “There’s a lot of work that has to go into the background of building out integrations for each environment.”
On top of sneakers and an (intricate? vaguely useful? cool?) NFT, anyone who owns the shoe will also have access to a suite of perks — most of which depend on Smith becoming a football superhero:
- For his first touchdown, plus every 41-yard reception afterward (up to 1 per game), owners will get Airdropped a gift certificate for a free cheesesteak made in a ghost kitchen
- If Smith reaches 1000+ receiving yards this season, owners will get a free collectable trading card
- If Smith is this season’s MVP, owners will be shipped a free luxury watch, brand TBD.
In addition, sneaker owners will be invited to two in-person events, no additional purchase necessary:
- An Eagles watch party at a sports bar near the Linc for a game later this season
- A meet-and-greet slash party with Smith himself at an undisclosed high-end sneaker store in Philly later this year.
Admittedly the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency is full of volatile value fluctuations, has similarities to gambling, and brings the omnipresent chance you could lose it all. In Philly, Web3 technology has struggled to land: The city abandoned a municipal cryptocurrency in 2021, and some city residents are skeptical of how residential crypto miners could impact neighborhoods.
For Smith, his work on this project is about educating the general public on emerging technologies that have the power to generate wealth for marginalized communities.
“New technology is always being introduced and to not try to embrace it and use it to [my] advantage would put me at a disadvantage,” Smith said. “Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, NFT’s aren’t always spoken about back home, so this was all new to me coming out of Alabama.”