India is strongly showing its commitment towards using new-age concepts such as blockchain, web 3.0 and metaverse as the various industries including fashion are intending to adopt these technologies in their value chain. What’s crucial here is the collaboration between brands and technology providers that aims at targeting the right consumers in the market and building a strong and successful ecosystem. One company that’s striving hard to boost these developments in India is Mohali-based Antier that’s holding a prominent ground in this realm for over 18 years now. Team Apparel Resources (AR) recently met Vikram R Singh, Founder and CEO of Antier and got some great insights on the use of metaverse, web 3.0 and blockchain in India, particularly in the fashion industry. Here are some excerpts.
AR: Please share your journey since the inception of Antier and what changes have you witnessed over the years in the industry.
Vikram: In 2005, we started as a design agency and enabled many small and medium-scale businesses to embrace digitisation. For the first four or five years, we worked with just a few people. In 2009, we got brave and added five more people to our team for a month. After that, people started to know us better.
Now after 18 years, we have come a long way. Today, we are India’s largest blockchain consulting firm with almost 700 talented folks in our team. We strongly believe India could be the world capital for web3 and Antier is like an engine to actualise the mission. We know that only a few companies from our area become famous worldwide. So, we are aiming to be well-known globally in the next two or three years. At the same time, we are getting ready to have over 2000 people in our team in the next three years.
One of our big successes is that about 95 per cent of our team members are proficient web3 consultants. We realised early on that people who can do important things in this field need to be able to do their own thing. Right now, our goal is to make a difference locally and then spread our influence all over the world.
Our mission is to introduce this idea in different educational programmes. We want to add blockchain and other web3 technologies as integral component in programmes/subjects like BCA, B Tech and MC. We’ve been talking to both state and central governments to show them how important this is.
We’re also really focused on metaverse now. It’s important to see how blockchain and the metaverse are connected. When we put these together, they make something valuable and let people use the metaverse in smart ways. Blockchain is like the base for metaverse, helping with smart agreements. This is especially important in money situations, like when finance and gaming mix together and games and money stuff start to come together.
|Referring back to what you were saying, it’s really important to recognise the problems that are stopping the fashion industry from making enough money. The main issues are social and other problems that need to be solved before a lot of people start using it. For example, a common mistake is thinking that blockchain is the same as cryptocurrency. Even though we know cryptocurrency has some good things about it, but the new kinds of money that central banks (Central Bank Digital Currencies or CBDCs) are thinking about don’t completely use all the good things related to this technology.|
AR: How can a profitable and revenue-earning fashion brand be built on metaverse and how can companies like yours help these brands monetise the concept – which is something not every metaverse solution provider has been able to achieve as of yet?
Vikram: It’s a very good question! It is evident that discussions surrounding metaverse and web3 have been widespread, yet there is an absence of mainstream applications utilising these technologies. This can be attributed to the fact that metaverse and web3, rather than being disruptive forces, are fundamentally an underpinning technology.
The main idea that is being suggested is to bring together making money and virtual worlds like the metaverse. Right now, there’s a big gap between these two things. This gap is there because we, as an industry, haven’t come up with a good plan that covers everything. Some programmes that give money and other ideas see that there are chances to do things, but they don’t really show people the right way to do it. This is why it’s really important to do things step by step.
The big challenge isn’t just understanding what customers want, but also making sure they are ready to use new and better ways of doing things. A pivotal aspect of our undertaking is to offer strategic counselling to brands, enabling them to come up with tailored solutions and realise their potential. This involves curating platforms that facilitate ease of adoption while minimising entry barriers for metaverse integration. The relationship between brands and customers is central to this proposition and the parallels with prevailing social media paradigms is a key, where content monetisation predominantly rests with a select few entities. Addressing this dynamism requires a three-fold approach.
First, it’s really important to thoroughly understand the big problems we’re facing in society and in our thinking. Secondly, we should carefully move our fashion brands forward by taking small steps, helping them slowly become more noticeable online. Third, we need to create easy-to-use websites that make it simple for people to start using our stuff. If we succeed with these ideas, we’ll set up a plan that a special group of customers can follow, which will make it easier to grow bigger in the future.
AR: Do you see a positive sentiment in the Indian fashion retail industry for the adoption of metaverse – both from the perspective of adopting companies as well as end-consumers?
Vikram: Right now, there’s a big difference in how much people in cities know compared to those in faraway places. Technology is changing really fast. We’re entering a new phase called Metaverse 1.0, which is a big global change. We have the right tools, like computers and smartphones, for this. Remember, not too long ago, we couldn’t even imagine watching videos online, but now we can.
We’re dealing with challenges that come with the new metaverse, like making sure our computers can handle it. A faster technology called 5G is going to help a lot. But there are still things we need to figure out, like how to use metaverse on the internet. Right now, it’s better to download things, but we’re trying to make it work better in web browsers.
Even though the metaverse is still growing, it’s a good idea to start trying things out. Brands and people should start to see what cool things they can do there. This way, we can slowly get used to what the metaverse can do for us.
|The first thing we need to do is make rules for things like blockchain-based tokens. This will make it easier for people to have these tokens and use them in a system that’s always improving. One example of this is when we make it easier to use your tokens in different ways, like with special accounts. This makes it better for people and makes the whole system more user-friendly.|
AR: Please share with us the framework that a fashion brand/retailer has to follow in order to successfully integrate metaverse concept in their business models. How much investment does this implementation require?
Vikram: I really believe that we can make these ideas happen when we look at what’s happening in different countries right now. It’s clear that these possibilities can definitely come true. Our organisation is all about software and technical stuff and we’re leaving the hardware part to other companies who know that stuff well. We’re excited about metaverse because it can help the environment.
Think about the huge amount of pollution that is generated from making clothes, like 2.8 billion tonnes of carbon emission, with 70 per cent coming from making clothes! Here’s the idea: picture a place where you can put in your body size when you go shopping. This information could help fashion brands and makers know what sizes and styles most people want. In India, lots of people need to fix the clothes they buy, like jeans. Fixing this could help cut down on pollution and help the planet.
Similarly when we started using blockchain technology, we believed in it, even when people doubted it could fit with the rules governments make. And now, even though there are rules issued for things like cryptocurrencies, governments are figuring out how to deal with them. We’re sure that people are ready for this change, just like how everyone agrees that taking care of the environment is super important. Brands will start using better ways to make stuff that’s good for the Earth, because everyone will want them to.
AR: Please share with us how are you strategising going forward to expand your footprints in the Indian fashion retail and manufacturing landscape.
Vikram: We have been doing smart things since we started working in the metaverse about a year-and-a-half ago. During that time, different companies came to us for help to foray into the metaverse. So, we did some small projects to show them how it could work. Like, we organised Diwali celebration on the metaverse, where people from all over the world could join in and celebrate together. People really liked it and got involved.
|Right now, there’s a big difference in how much people in cities know compared to those in faraway places. Technology is changing really fast. We’re entering a new phase called Metaverse 1.0, which is a big global change. We have the right tools, like computers and smartphones, for this. Remember, not too long ago, we couldn’t even imagine watching videos online, but now we can.|
Then, we did the same thing for Christmas and people liked that too. By doing all this, we realised that brands want real and cool solutions that match what they want to do. This got us thinking about fashion metaverse and people were really excited about it. They wanted to try it out in their own ways.
We are all about doing practical stuff. Instead of just giving services, we give brands big plans that work. We use facts and real results to show how the metaverse can help them be good to the environment which is important. We don’t do things the usual way – we make special plans that really fit each brand and what they want to do.