Blockchaining Fashion Industry – Smart Clothes, Wearables And IoT
The issue with fashion is that some get it and some don’t. But that’s just fine, as fashion is not for everybody. One thing is certain: fashionable or not, wearing clothes is required by law. Irrespective of gender, age, political views or religion, everybody must wear clothes in public. While the requirements of wearing clothes might never change, the garments we wear and their composite materials keep changing, evolving all the time.
The apparel sector has come a long way, from times of animal skins used as rudimentary forms of garments to the modern era of smart textiles, cognitive dresses, nanotech infused garments, soon to be put on the blockchain. A blockchain is a list of growing records called blocks. These records (blocks) are linked together and secured using cryptography.
Each block contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, blockchains are temper resistant therefore the cannot be modified once recorded on the ledged. In fashion, such technology can prove vital to stop counterfeiting and greenwashing.
Blockchaining Fashion Industry – Immutable Profiles
A perfect example of how blockchain technology is going to change the fashion industry could come in the shape of a collaboration between a blockchain provides, such as VeChain or Stratis Platform and Avery Dennison, a global manufacturer of clothing labels. This type of partnership could launch a new type of ‘care label’ that connects fashion garments and accessories to their own immutable digital profiles, all on the blockchain.
The blockchain platform would grant Avery Dennison access to their proprietary blockchains which combine the latest advances in security and stability with the latest breakthroughs in network speed, scalability and customization, to record various types of information such as the materials used, their provenience, product warranty, health status, even location and environmental data.
As Avery Dennison is a Fortune 500 business and the number one supplier of apparel care labels in the world, counting Nike, Hugo Boss, and Under Armour amongst its vast clientele, a dedicated blockchain provider such as VeChain or Stratis would tremendously help with the integration and monitoring of billions of fashion garments, shoes and accessories, each year, helping the company combat counterfeiting and greenwashing with minimal investment.
Blockchaining Fashion Industry – IoT And Smart Labels
Such ‘blockchaining fashion’ collaborations would work by one party creating and attaching smart labels to all physical objects and the other party ensuring that each label is turned into a gateway to a unique blockchain profile which holds relevant information to each garment and allows for 24/7 monitoring on the blockchain.
Greenwashing and counterfeiting are two of the most difficult problems facing the fashion industry and blockchain technology, through its creation of digital profiles with unique footprint and identity can be a tremendous help. The market is huge, the potential is untapped, but things are changing fast. According to VeChain website, the company is in negotiations with one of the most prestigious luxury houses in Europe for a similar project with the one described here.
VeChain’s most basic solution is based on customised NFC labels, embedded or embossed into physical goods. The aim here is to deliver tamper-proof anti-counterfeiting solutions. The deployment of smart labels in luxury and fashion segments brings great benefits to both, the brand and the consumer.
On the blockchain, smart labels provide an end-to-end product lifecycle management while also allowing the buyers to learn more about the ‘story’ behind the product, as in the materials, provenience, warranty, or how to best care for the product. The information is available to the consumer by scanning the embedded chip with a dedicated smartphone app. To date, VeChain is one of the most established blockchain companies in the industry. The company has a functional product and have ongoing partnerships with PwC and the Chinese government.
The idea of smart labels is nothing new. Smart labels are used to mark food, smartphones, toys, clothes and even humans. What is new here is the blockchain technology that provides an immutable ledger where the second generation of RFID tags can write and synchronise relevant information, on the go.
Thanks to the smart label technology, your sneakers could ‘talk’ to you via text messages. You could receive friendly alerts in the case of a malfunction or regular maintenance reminders and even how to best recycle them, at the end of their life.
Ethics wise, for the more conscious consumer the object’s digital recording on the blockchain will let you use any smartphone app to scan the ‘smart’ label and see if the dinner dress you are about to purchase is genuine, made of organic cotton and environment-friendly, just as advertised.
Upgrading to ‘blockchain smart labels’ is crucial in ensuring compatibility with emerging technological tides, increasingly intersecting with both segments of personal luxury goods and fashion such as augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Blockchaining Fashion Industry – Consumer Data
Artificial intelligence plays an important role in helping marketers gain insights into comprehensive arrays of opportunities. However, to identify patterns and make almost impossible connections, the AI requires more than just sales and conversational data. Blockchain-linked ‘smart labels’ are the perfect match for AI, ‘feeding’ the algorithm with relevant product data and consumers’ behavioural patterns and biometric data.
A more advanced type of smart label, designed for biometric data collection thanks to its natural on-the-skin placement via bras and underwears, is developed by Harvard University.
“Here we demonstrate a simple process of transforming general cotton threads into intelligent e-textiles using a polyelectrolyte-based coating with carbon nanotubes…can be used to detect albumin, key proteins, blood, with high accuracy.” Nano Letters, vol. 8. Issue 12, pp. 4151-4157. December 2008; Wearable Fabrics For Human Biomonitoring.
‘Smart labels’ on the blockchain are the solution for ending counterfeiting and greenwashing but also the most advanced system of consumer data collection. Inexpensive and non-intrusive to the wearer, these inconspicuous devices can combine environmental, geographic, and digital ‘footprints’ from smartphones, tablets and wearable devices to provide AI with highly accurate and very detailed consumer patterns.
‘Blockchaining’ the landscape of fashion and personal luxury goods provide brands with insights once emerged from human intuition. By straining vast amounts of blockchain-based big data through complex learning algorithms the AI is finally taking guesswork out of the equation.