Blockchain And Fashion: An Innovative Pairing

by Roberto Mangual | December 21, 2018

Chances are, when you first hear the word “blockchain”, you’ll be thinking of Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency that has grown exponentially in the past few years.

It makes sense, considering the fact that blockchain technology was first invented specifically for the use of Bitcoin. The technology, however, can be utilized in a variety of ways; it doesn’t have to be limited to just digital currency. Its accessibility and transparency are an incredibly appealing combination, and can be used in numerous industries. It’s no surprise, then, that the fashion industry has started to recognize the benefits of utilizing and incorporating blockchain technology, and its popularity is sure to grow.

In February earlier this year, the first Blockchain Fashion Conference was held in Kiev.

The conference wanted to research the possibilities of uniting blockchain and fashion, and it’s certainly a step in the right direction. The conference will, hopefully, be the first of many as both industries come together to find new and inventive solutions to create a harmonious fashion blockchain ecosystem. While it’ll be a few years before blockchain is completely implemented into the fashion industry, it’s good to see that designers and brands are starting to take notice of the technology.

One of the main benefits of blockchain technology in Fashion is its resistance to alterations and counterfeiting.

As a result, it allows the user to be far more transparent. Fraud can be a major problem in any industry, but it is especially prevalent in the fashion industry. With blockchain technology, however, records cannot be deleted, changed, or lost, making it far easier to keep track of the currency, no matter where it goes. Blockchain paired with technologies such as RFID (already in use by the likes of fast fashion giants such as Zara and H&M) can track a product throughout its entire lifecycle, from raw material shipments to final delivery, encouraging a new level of transparency within the supply chain. In addition, every time a product changes hands, it’s recorded and kept secure through the blockchain system, which can even be used in the prevention of counterfeit goods. Consumers are also increasingly demanding transparency from fashion brands, as it’s important for them to know where and how their clothes are being made, due to political, ethical, social and environmental concerns. Brands such as Everlane and Patagonia have built their reputations on promoting full transparency, displaying just how lucrative transparent fashion can be.

Blockchain technology can provide consumers visibility into the entire fashion lifecycle of a garment, including materials and vendors used, the labor sources, and even the production, shipping and warehouse locations involved.

Designers are starting to experiment with blockchain technology. For example, Chinese label Babyghost partnered up with VeChain and BitSE to create a phone application that could tell the customer the “story” behind any garment in their Spring/Summer collection. It allowed consumers to really study and see the entire lifecycle of a particular garment, creating another level of transparency and accessibility within what has been a traditionally closed-off and secretive industry, while still encouraging audience engagement. While it’ll take some time before major fashion brands and retailers start to incorporate blockchain into their companies, Babyghost’s experiment is simply the beginning.

The relationship between blockchain and fashion brands is, at its core, a symbol of the way society is constantly changing and adapting to keep up with more and more innovative technology. The future of apparel is shifting as the industry slowly changes from a supply chain model to a demand chain model, rooted in much more than the traditional consumption-driven models. As the fashion industry begins to adopt more and more inventive technologies, it’ll have to find a way to keep up – and that’s where blockchain comes in. Its ease of use and omnipresence can definitely help brands manage their product’s lifecycles while still promoting ultimate transparency.

In all, it’s exciting to think of the possibilities that blockchain can bring to the fashion world – it could totally alter the way consumers shop and search for clothing in the future. While still in its infancy, the conference in Kiev is an indication of how designers are starting to become more and more interested in the uses of blockchain. Hopefully we will soon begin to see newer and even more innovative technologies born from the partnership between fashion brands and blockchain technology.