PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton will reveal on Friday it is launching the first global blockchain designed to help consumers trace the provenance and authenticity of luxury goods, beginning with its Louis Vuitton and Parfums Christian Dior brands.
Developed in partnership with Microsoft and New York-based blockchain software technology company ConsenSys, the Aura platform will be open to all luxury brands without intermediation, with all data remaining confidential.
“The benefits for customers are increased transparency and enhanced ethical products,” LVMH said in a statement.
The emergence of secure digital identities for luxury goods comes at a time when the commerce of online counterfeit and knockoff products is accelerating along with online fraud and the sale of stolen luxury goods.
The resale and “re-commerce” segment is also growing at a rapid rate as consumers trade luxury fashion products online through sites such as Vestiaire Collective and The RealReal. Analysts at Wells Fargo Securities estimate that while the resale market accounts for $48 billion of total retail sales, the apparel, footwear and accessories category dominates half of that market.
Xian Yu, Alibaba’s resale platform, reported last month that its sales totaled 100 billion renminbi, or $14.9 billion, last year. This growth sheds light on how blockchain can be used not only in financial applications, but in product traceability, allowing brands to have control over the products they sell, as well as protecting users’ data.
The Aura service is designed to provide proof of origin of luxury products, anticounterfeiting, tracking and tracing of the life cycle of each item, LVMH said. It can also be used to protect creative intellectual property and counter advertising fraud.
Vuitton, which controls all of its retail sales through its own network of stores, will use the service to unveil the story behind its products, as Aura will provide information logging the provenance of raw materials such as wool and leather, the tanning process, manufacturing and the final journey to the consumer.
“Every step of the item’s life cycle is registered, enabling a new and transparent storytelling,” the group said, adding that all Louis Vuitton products will be certified in the near future.
Aura should also provide clarity on where an item was originally purchased and when it is offered for resale, which will cast a spotlight on gray market trading, such as China’s thriving daigou networks.
Although blockchain has generated strong interest among fashion players, LVMH is the first major luxury group to endorse the technology. A spokesman declined to provide additional details, saying LVMH chief digital officer Ian Rogers would elaborate on the project at the VivaTech conference in Paris on Friday.
Vuitton will also spotlight some of its other technological innovations at the fair, including two signature monogram canvas handbags incorporating flexible digital screens, initially presented as part of its cruise 2020 show in New York City last week.
Cryptographic technology provider Arianee last month hosted a panel in Paris titled “Luxury Meets Blockchain” as part of Paris Blockchain Week, a series of events during which it demonstrated its open source protocol solution. The company said the French regulation on crypto-assets was becoming “one of the best in the world.”
Frédéric Montagnon, chairman of Arianee, said privacy and cybersecurity “have become the biggest concern regarding digital adoption for companies and individuals over the past year. It’s time to rethink the way information systems are designed in order to let users regain control over their data, and to prevent data leakage.”
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