Clothing designer Matthew William’s luxury fashion brand Alyx announced today that it will use Iota Foundation’s blockchain distributed ledger technology to track the production of clothing from raw materials to the final product.
The system, which will be used to instill consumer trust, combines the efforts of materials science company Avery Dennison and supply chain visibility firm Evrything along with Alyx and Iota.
Using a quick response or QR code printed on a tag connected to the clothing item in question, a customer can use an app to follow a shirt or dress to “track to rack” to see where the materials were sourced from, where the textiles were manufactured, what factory the garment was sewn in and finally shipped to the retail store.
This, luxury brands have begun to believe, will fill in a missing rung when it comes to brand trust. By allowing consumers to better understand the origins of their clothing, brands hope that they can instill a better sense of genuine quality in the minds of customers.
“Blockchain and distributed ledger technology is the future for effective brand protection,” said Matthew Williams, the British fashion designer behind the Alyx label. “By supplying product information, supply chain traceability and transparent dialogue with the consumer, the brand’s authenticity is globally secured.”
Blockchain technology operates by distributing a single ledger between multiple parties that allows the addition of new transaction data only with a consensus of the members. The technology uses a cryptographic mechanism that protects the data from tampering meaning that once a transaction is added to the blockchain, it can be reasonably trusted that it has not changed.
In the case of a supply chain, every time something happens along the “journey” of the garment can be recorded and retrieved.
This means deep visibility into the supply chain for brands, which means the ability to produce trustworthy and granular statistics. The increased knowledge delivered to brands across manufacturing and sales channels, combined with customer preferences and interaction, would give access to business insights in real time.
“Our innovative solution combines our Janela platform with a new blockchain layer, providing consumers and brands with fundamental uncompromisable data,” said Debbie Shakespeare, senior director of sustainability and compliance at Avery Dennison. “Brands and consumers can know that the information they are being shown about the garment’s creation process is 100% accurate and can be trusted implicitly.”
Blockchain technology continues to be explored by numerous industries as a way to increase product trust for consumers and for businesses. For example, IBM Corp. created the IBM Food Trust blockchain to increase food safety by tracking groceries from farm to store shelf and the World Wildlife Fund offering proof of ethical sourcing for meat. Other companies sought blockchain solutions to increase consumer trust for things such as De Beers’ diamonds, minerals sourcing for automotive and batteries such as Ford Motor Co. for cobalt and Volkswagon Group for lead.
“This is a watershed moment for improving brand transparency and trust,” Shakespeare said.
An example of how the app works, when a customer uses a QR code to “see the journey” of their shirt is available online from Alyx and Evrything. It shows an unadorned black shirt that is revealed as “authentic” and tracks its life cycle from the procurement of raw materials to its eventual sale.
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