Gone are the days when the fashion industry could obscure a garment’s identifying information. Last year, brands such as Matthew Williams’ luxury label Alyx and Ralph Lauren turned to digital innovation, namely digital identities, to align with future priorities.
“Sustainable sourcing,” “transparency” and “traceability” reigned as core priorities in an October sourcing report from McKinsey & Co., and it’s upping the desire for plug-and-play technology solutions that integrate with existing infrastructure.
“There’s a lot to be excited about in the next five years. I’m most excited to see the convergence of two prominent themes in the fashion industry: digital and sustainability,” said Mike Colarossi, vice president of product line management, innovation and sustainability at Avery Dennison.
“In a world in which every garment’s creation comes with a unique digital ID, we will be able to help shape the future of sustainability across the industry. For example, eliminating waste through better supply chain and inventory planning or enabling transparency (of raw materials, labor, etc.) across the supply chain,” said Colarossi.
Further, Colarossi points to the potential for customized consumer experiences and advantages to all stakeholders in closing the loop on a garment’s end of life — be it recycle, upcycle or resale.
Colarossi works specifically on apparel solutions at Avery Dennison, and as with enterprise technology companies such as SAP, it is indeed an opportunity now as the majority of executives are hunting for digital supply chain solutions to firmly live out their sustainability promises.
This is according to last year’s “Pulse of the Fashion Industry” report, coauthored by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, which said 60 percent of the industry needs to scale up proven measures, including “supply chain traceability.”
As real-time case studies, Alyx and Ralph Lauren tapped into the combined strengths of intelligent labeling solutions from Avery Dennison and Internet of Things company Evrythng — forming technology consortiums to unlock digital identities, at scale in the case of the latter, with the capability of digitizing just under 200 million products in annual volume.
“I firmly believe that many of the challenges that the fashion industry faces today are not going to be solved if we work in isolation,” said Colarossi.
This year is to be a playground for digital identity pilots, anticipated from H&M Group, Target Corp., PVH Corp. and other key partners to digital identity platform Eon, founded by Natasha Franck.
Momentum has continued this winter, with heritage companies and upstarts alike unveiling the benefits of end-to-end supply chain visibility.
Capping this week, the Woolmark Company enlisted blockchain-enabled company Provenance to make its coveted 2020 International Woolmark Prize entirely traceable for the very first time. All contestants designed collections of six looks of traceable merino wool, but ultimately Irish designer Richard Malone won the prize as an equal champion of regenerative agricultural practices.
In a state of industry transition, where the word “sustainability” can send a shudder down a brand’s spine or an outpouring of enthusiasm — “born digital” is becoming new table stakes for sustainable upstarts.
Last month, sustainable label “Another Tomorrow” sprung into existence. The ready-to-wear brand was founded by a former financial executive Vanessa Barboni Hallik, securing Evrythng as a tech partner to enable traceability for each piece in its collection with the scan of a QR code.
Another Tomorrow joins the optimism of Thousand Fell, Everybody & Everyone and others prizing circularity from the start and looking to tap RFID thread-enabled digital identity solutions.
Still, the usefulness of a digital identity clearly is hostage to consumer adoption.
To that point, Colarossi said: “We are starting to see wider adoption of QR codes to drive different consumer engagement experiences like brand authentication or transparency. It’s a rapidly evolving space.”
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