VKYD ( /ˈwɪkɪd/ )
vkyd-main-webapp.vercel.app (VKYD Web App, under development)
vkyd-lcfr.vercel.app (VKYD’s self-hosted CDN)
vkyd.herokuapp.com (Abandoned prototype web app because of a suboptimal tech-stack)
Re-reading this, here are a couple edits I'd like to make -
- Find a better promotion strategy, paid marketing and targeted ads aren't going to cut it
- For anyone willing to pursue anything of similar nature, this is a really competitive space. The major challenges we faced were -
- Quality Control is extremely hard, the factories are severely unregulated with bare minimum industry standards. This is further aggravated by unwillingness of the factory owners to communicate (especially with startups demanding small quantities <1000 pieces of any garment)
- If your product has no breakthrough-developments that benefit the customer directly (aside from the ecological benefits and sustainability), it's going to be hard sell because you'd have to steal away customers from other brands. I conducted a survey on Instagram and you'd be surprised by how less of a shit people give about ecological conciousness or just supporting small businesses in general unless they add 10X value (mostly because of convenience and habituation). Feel free to hit me up for the results of that survey
The idea behind VKYD was to build a platform to empower the Indian economy by promoting small-time garment manufacturers, local tailors, and aspiring designers through production-per-piece, crowdsourced designs and custom fittings while minimizing any wastage of resources and keeping the true spirit of streetwear fashion alive - to look your best at the minimum cost.
Observations that led to the idea
I found that in 2017 alone, our developing nation bought 6 billion articles of clothing. Taking a weighted average of the urban population (about 280 million) against the rural population (close to 740 million), the average urban-Indian bought 20 new items that year alone. This number is ever-growing.
As the name suggests, these articles are short-lived and discarded or "donated" much faster. The emphasis on "donation" represents the flip side of looking "Poppin!" every day - the destructive impacts on ecology and humans alike.
- A pair of denim jeans consumes 7600 liters of water before hitting the shelves. To gain perspective, that's the amount of water a healthy person drinks in 11 years.
- The synthetic fiber industry used as much as 350 million barrels of oil in 2018, which is more than all international flights and maritime combined.
- Indonesia is a hub for the production of chemical dyes, the effects of which are catastrophic. The Citarum River which served as the source of livelihood for an entire community now fuels perpetual sickness.
- 87% of the "donated" clothes end up in the dumping grounds of Africa and Kenya where they are incinerated, causing air pollution.
The list of such statistics is unending and the "MVP" of this changing game is the phenomenon of Fast-Fashion, making premium-looking clothing items cheaply and widely available.
Globally, the success of this concept can be accredited to a few key retailers. However, the Indian markets pose a different challenge that is seemingly insurmountable without proper technology in place.
Due to the widespread and varying economic demographic, the well-off section is targeted by the international key retailers while the middle-class is flooded with cheap clothing options from Indian and South-Asian Manufacturers which is the primary problem. VKYD aims to eliminate both of these issues by providing sustainable streetwear while empowering these manufacturers by allowing them to work in tandem rather than competition. Hence allowing for the greater good of the Indian fashion sector.
The Business Model
Much like the other big players in the game, VKYD too planned to launch the products in the form of seasonal “drops” which are essentially collections with a coherent theme.
Revenue Stream 1: VKYD as the Creative Lead
In its most elementary form, any great piece of clothing is a combination of good design and fine production. Henceforth, to streamline the process of production and reduce the time to market, the collection would be conceptualized under the production standards and capabilities of the manufacturers in the VKYD Network.
Any aspiring artist willing to propose the production of a collection/garment in a pre-existent collection would go through a public vote (paid, until VKYD hits a critical mass of users or the VKYD Fanbase). Upon being voted in favor, the artists’ ideas would be sent to the manufacturers who would produce in quantities to minimize wastage while ensuring no loss (this can be achieved by initially having a production-per-order model the data from which can be run through a simple Neural Network which would be able to predict the sales figures using past sales, VKYD Fanbase poll results, general aesthetics of the “drop'' etc.).
The artists and manufacturers would receive a one-time payment or a commission on each of their pieces sold (as per the agreement they enter with VKYD) alongside the due credit and mention on the sales channels.
Since there won’t be mass manufacturing, the consumers will also have the option to have the clothes custom-fit to their needs, this will be accomplished by recruiting a network of skilled local tailors.
These finished pieces would then be shipped off in eco-friendly packaging with only the bare minimum use of plastic.
Revenue Stream 2: VKYD as a platform
This revenue stream would essentially be presenting VKYD as a matchmaking and sales platform, a safe space for budding designers and manufacturers to collaborate and launch collections of their own in the shortest time with minimum funds and resources.
The collections would undergo a review by the VKYD Team and upon approval, the same would be listed and promoted on the VKYD web app as well as other social media handles.
VKYD would charge a small commission on each sale (factoring exclusivity, sales generation, etc.) while the manufacturer and the designer would divide the lion’s share upon mutual agreement.
Living in the modern-day, we’d be using targeted ads and SEO to reach out to our primary audience - the youth in urban areas. A major component of our campaign would be a struggle, hard work, brotherhood, and upliftment reflected through street culture, rap music, and Boombox-Aesthetics. This would also present a great opportunity to collaborate with upcoming artists.
Another feature for increasing user engagement would be to include “social-commerce” by introducing “try-out” features and filters online. These features would essentially let the user try on our clothing etc electronically with simple AR technology as used by several platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, they would make the user a “celebrity” even if just for a moment hence driving curiosity to us. A great example of this can be seen in Lenskart (India-based Unicorn eyewear startup whose major USP was to let the user try out the spectacles without having to make a purchase or even leaving their bed).
While there isn’t a lot of complicated technology involved, the basic tech stack would include a web app built on Node.JS using Next.JS for its neoteric e-commerce functionalities. This would be paired up with Business Hosting on Vercel (formerly Zeit). The backend would be handled by MongoDB primarily because of its seamless integration with Node.JS.
For social media filters and AR tech, we’ll be looking at Facebook’s Spark AR Studio and Snapchat's Lens Studio.
Looking at the bigger picture, I believe we would have expanded into more fashion classes including Ethnic Indian clothing for women since that’s an major sector with wide wastage of resources.
Another sector VKYD could branch into would be supporting creators more hands-on by launching its own production houses celebrating the upcoming talent including and not limited to rappers, EDM enthusiasts, etc.
The Design and Aesthetic
The currently built prototypes (hosted on the aforementioned links) have a UI built around Neomorphism in tones of dark smoke indicating the coming-of-age aspect of VKYD.