Streetwear brand Alyx has launched a blockchain project during the Copenhagen Fashion Summit this week, that details the origin of its garments.
Developed in collaboration with Avery Dennison, and powered by EVRYTHNG, the tech is showcased via a smart label featuring a QR code that consumers can scan with their smartphones. They will then have access to all the information about the garment’s journey through the supply chain, as well as its sustainability credentials.
To implement the traceability of goods, Alyx’s tag uses a system powered by Iota, the German blockchain foundation. The system enables a distributed ledger technology that has no centralized authority. It means that a transaction is documented every time a product changes hands, generating a permanent history that’s easily accessible.
The use of blockchain can also help to authenticate products, or identify counterfeit goods, a priority for luxury consumers.
““Blockchain and distributed ledger technology is the future for effective brand protection. By supplying product information, supply chain traceability and transparent dialogue with the consumer, the brand’s authenticity is globally secured,” said Alyx’s designer Matthew Williams.
The new tag is expected to roll out to consumers later in 2019.
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L’Oréal Australia has teamed up with manufacturing company Avery Dennison and local waste management company Wasteflex to introduce a recycling scheme for its labels.
This initiative will help the brand stay committed to its sustainability goals and aim to reduce packaging waste across its international product ranges.
The program, which was developed in coordination between the three companies, will keep a specific part of the label application process (called a glassine paper liner) out of landfills, instead giving it a new life as recycled paper. Up to six tonnes of the glassine paper liner waste could potentially be recycled as a result.
David O’Leary, national logistics manager of L’Oréal Australia explains: “The savings from this program have been significant, but the biggest benefit for L’Oréal Australia is being able to meet our zero waste to landfill through the services and expertise of Wasteflex and Avery Dennison.”
This is not the first time L’Oréal has partnered with Avery Dennison. In 2015, the American branch of the beauty group collaborated with the manufacturing company to leverage its materials science expertise and find a solution for decreasing the waste of its Global MDO product labels. The effort reduced the materials needed for its labels by half, decreasing solid waste by 40%.
With the circular economy becoming an increasingly important topic across fashion and beauty, this initiative exemplifies how innovative new processes and global cooperation can reduce material costs, while also pushing the industry towards a more sustainable business model.
Future technologies will not only help curb the counterfeit market, but act as vehicles for brand storytelling, said Graham Wetzbarger, chief authenticator of second-hand e-tailer The RealReal at SXSW.
The advent of technologies that combat fakes may have hit strides over the past few years, but the problem is far from being tamed, he said. Even though the USA counterfeit industry experienced an 8% uptick in seizures at border control from 2016 to 2017, it is becoming increasingly difficult to target illegal goods from navigating from country to country. At present, only 10% of counterfeit goods are seized, and the industry retains $1.7 trillion in value globally, said Avery Dennison’s director of digital solutions Julie Vargas in the same session.
The challenge is outsmarting counterfeiters, who are operating in a much more granular manner, Wetzbarger noted. While in the past goods would arrive in large quantities via shipping containers, they are now coming in via airmail through local courier services. Illegal goods are also produced and retailed through a variety of channels, from very real looking, but fake e-commerce websites, to the dark web and last mile counterfeiting.
For young and label-hungry consumers in cities such as Seoul and Moscow, buying fakes is the most viable option when import taxes are too high, or there is little to no access to on-trend labels such as Off-White and Vetements, said Wetzbarger.
Tapping into the digitally-savvy behaviour of these shoppers, counterfeiters are becoming influencers in their own right and gaining a loyal following on social media. Hypebeast online publication Highsnobiety now runs Counterfeit Culture, an online video series that explores the culture globally – an indication that beyond supporting an illegal trade, fake goods are now becoming a social currency among a niche group of consumers.
Beyond traditional tools of authentication – such as inspecting the material and construction of goods – Wetzbarger also stressed the importance of introducing tags to not only tell the product’s story, but also act as an extension of the brand. In this matter, new technologies such as blockchain are starting to emerge to enable brands to have more control of tracking and developing content for individual goods.
“There’s a secret sauce to always staying one step ahead of counterfeiters. When talking about the secondary economy it’s not a perfect science, but technology can help with that,” said Vargas of Avery Dennison.
The deployment of blockchain will also go hand-in-hand with a consumer need to be constantly connected and informed about the provenance of their purchases. Wetzbarger suggested that handbags, which are the largest product category on The RealReal platform, could tell the story of previous owners if they chose to participate, for example. He also talks of a future in which a Clueless-type of digital closet, where connected labels can track what garments the consumer has, how often they are used, and what items are missing in their style repertoire.
As recently seen by Stella McCartney’s announcement of collaborating with The RealReal to authenticate and officially sell her label’s merchandise, there is a strong element of sustainability attached to buying from the circular economy. For consumers, it means having another home for an item that may no longer be to their taste, but still holds quality and meaning. For labels, it is continuing the lifecycle of a brand and strengthening its value, said Wetzbarger. “Brands are getting behind this because they want their products to hold equity.”
Adding a digital ledger on the blockchain to every product could have a myriad of benefits not only to first-time buyers, but to re-sellers, therefore. “How interesting would it be if a product was always telling data?” concluded Wetzbarger.
Here’s a question: If your handbag could talk, would you want the brand it’s from to listen? How about if sharing the data it collects on you could lead you to gain access to highly relevant, truly personalised and ultimately exclusive experiences consistently?
It’s a fine line between what of that is a serious privacy conversation, and what’s otherwise merely an outlined future of projected value exchange tied to the internet of things.
This is the future being imagined and worked on by New York designer Rebecca Minkoff with its line of #AlwaysOn smart bags launched in stores last week in partnership with EVRYTHNG’s IoT smart products cloud platform and Avery Dennison’s smart tag solution.
“We’ve always wanted to enrich our customers’ lives and deliver a brand experience that extends beyond the products themselves,” said Uri Minkoff, co-founder and CEO of Rebecca Minkoff. “By bringing #AlwaysOn smart features to the bags, we’re opening doors to a world of amazing, hand-picked experiences we think our customers will love, while making it easier than ever for them to access special offers, recommendations, and other loyalty rewards.”
The bags each feature a serialised smart label that, when scanned by a smartphone, will enable the owner to receive exclusive offers, product recommendations and video content from Rebecca Minkoff. For now, that offering remains a fairly basic one, but long term, the vision is indeed for truly personalised experiences presented off the back of real-time data fed to the business from the bags.
The roadmap for 2018, for instance, includes using geo-targeting to reach additional partners within the lifestyle, wellness and beauty realm. The user may well walk into a hotel in Austin, Texas, for instance, and be presented with personalised content recommending what to do while in the city. Collaborations can follow with food, travel, concert brands and more.
Rebecca Minkoff is continuing on her tech-enabled journey as a fashion brand, this time introducing smart tags to her new handbag designs in order to offer consumers access to exclusive content and experiences.
Ahead of her fashion week show taking place at The Grove in Los Angeles this weekend, 10 limited edition bags, dubbed the #AlwaysOn Midnighter style, will be available at an exclusive pop-up shop on site. Each one comes with a hangtag that unlocks a ticket to the spring/summer 2017 runway event when scanned.
The initiative is in partnership with apparel branding solutions Avery Dennison’s Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) division and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG. It follows the 2016 announcement of the duo’s #BornDigital concept, which aims to digitise 10 billion items of clothing and accessories over the next three years. The first iteration of this was seen with a limited edition run of jackets from New York menswear brand Rochambeau in October.
Rather than a one-off, in this instance, Rebecca Minkoff has further announced that all of its bags will be “smart” by summer 2017, helping to push towards that vision for the mass spread of #BornDigital wardrobes. Head over to Forbes to read all about what the products provide access to via their digital identities in the cloud.
Unveiled as part of its collection for the International Woolmark Prize Final in Paris today, the concept piece is once again a collaboration between the designers, Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG, apparel branding solutions Avery Dennison’s Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) division and hybrid retail/media company The New Stand.
The hat incorporates NFC and QR code labels hidden inside that pull-up content on a mobile web page when scanned. What’s surfaced depends on factors like time of day, as well as location – all of it has been designed for major cultural centres and destination cities including New York, Paris, London and Tokyo.
You can read the full story on Forbes, including insights directly from the Rochambeau team on this idea of connecting consumers directly with experiences through the products they create.
Need an idea for a unique gift this holiday season? How about a jacket that unlocks access to exclusive dining, art, retail and fashion experiences in New York, directly through its own sleeve?
That’s the premise behind a new connected design from New York-based brand Rochambeau, a 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist and a Menswear Woolmark award winner. A limited run of just 15 jackets are due for release in December, each one with embedded digital tags that act as a VIP pass to a highly sought-after event, hand-picked by the founders, including a tasting menu for two at Toro restaurant, a personal tour at New Release gallery or velvet rope entry to the most exclusive nightclubs.
The initiative is a partnership with Avery Dennison’s Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) division and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG, following its announcement earlier in 2016 of its #BornDigital concept, which aims to digitize 10 billion items of clothing and accessories over the next three years.
The Bright BMBR jackets, as they’re called, are powered by Avery Dennison’s Janela™ platform. That means a combination of custom NFC chips and QR codes in place under a hidden zipper pocket in the left sleeve, marked by the Romchambeau “R” logo, both of which have serialized codes on them to connect to their data profiles in EVRYTHNG’s IoT cloud. Consumers only have to use their smartphones to access the hidden content behind them – their unique New York experience as well as a signed, numbered piece of artwork inspired by the jacket and an individual “making-of” video. At the end of the fall/winter season, each smart jacket also turns into a New York Fashion Week ticket to Rochambeau’s spring 2017 runway show.
Head over to Forbes to read all about why that matters – what role experience plays in fashion consumption today, from the perspective of Rochambeau co-founder Laurence Chandler, and the importance of data in making connected clothing all the more valuable for the user and the brand, from Andy Hobsbawm, CMO and co-founder of EVRYTHNG.
One of the most interesting things about connected clothing at this point is imagining the possibilities it will actually bring – do we really need tops that light up, shirts that tell us what the weather is doing, or the ability to see some of our social media feeds embedded in the laces on our shoes? When we stop and think about it, what do we truly want our garments to do and achieve for us?
The fact of the matter is, the things we wear are indeed getting smarter, and yet we’re still waiting for the perfect use cases to make us all want to jump on board and buy them.
The good news is, there’s potential that’s all set to change. You may remember a few months ago the announcement that Avery Dennison, a global leader in branding, labelling and RFID solutions, and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG, teamed up to introduce 10 billion items of connected clothing over the next three years.
That deal will mean brands and retailers have to think less about how to get their wares on the grid, and instead focus on what exactly they want them to be able to do. As Niall Murphy, CEO and co-founder of EVRYTHNG, said at launch: “We’re taking the manufacturing complexity out of the challenge list by pre-solving it for brands. No longer is it about how am I going to get my 500 million pairs of sneakers to have a digital capability, because it’s already there. Now it’s about what applications you’re going to create, and a focus on real end value for the user.”
On the consumer side (digital clothing has many business applications also), he envisioned everything from finding our shoes when we’ve lost them, to figuring out how to wash our clothes properly, looking for style tips on how to wear items, and even searching for how to buy a new version of the same piece.
In a bid to show how “born digital” clothing could work, the duo have now launched a video (as above) detailing the possibilities a consumer might encounter through the Janela Smart Products Platform. Reminiscent of the virtual wardrobe in 1990s film Clueless, it focuses on the idea that new items just bought will instantly appear in a user’s app, enabling them to help visualise outfits to wear based on what they own, as well as get advice on other things to purchase to match. It also turns to the end of a garment’s life cycle by helping show them how and what they can recycle.
EVRYTHNG has reportedly had to expand its sales team in order to keep up with demand from brands and manufacturers since the announcement. It is also seeing numerous new use cases emerge in things like supply chain, where identity on an item can help solve compliance issues and use data to join up fragmentation in the sector.
Author and journalist Bruce Sterling reportedly once asked: “Why can’t I Google my shoes when I can’t find them?” Well Bruce, now you can. Not just any pair either, but your exact pair.
Some 10 billion products in the apparel, accessories and footwear market are currently being individually digitally connected, and the ability to locate items is just one of the benefits that will surface from the deal.
This “switching on” of the fashion industry is the outcome of a partnership between Avery Dennison, a global leader in branding, labeling and RFID solutions, and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG. Over the next three years, it will see brands at both ends of the market (Avery already works with the likes of Hugo Boss, Nike and Marks & Spencer) introducing products with unique digital identities and data profiles in the cloud from the point of manufacturing.
So what does that actually mean? Head over to Forbes to get the lowdown on why this is important for the industry and what impact it will have on consumers.