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Blockchain experience backs Malan Breton’s show this NYFW

Malan Breton's SS18 show will incorporate blockchain technology via SohoMuse
Malan Breton’s SS18 show will incorporate blockchain technology via SohoMuse

SohoMuse, a new invite-only networking platform for creative professionals, is turning to blockchain technology as both a form of token and the basis for transparent transactions this New York Fashion Week.

The site, which is currently in beta mode, has partnered with designer Malan Breton and blockchain solutions company Tokenly to launch the innovative shopping experience.

It will not only play host to the live stream of the designer’s show on September 7, but enable members to purchase pieces from Breton’s collection in real-time. All transactions made will be recorded via the blockchain, which is essentially a distributed digital ledger; making all purchases made both transparent and more secure.

All viewers of the live stream will also receive a blockchain token called ‘MALANBRETON’, as a form of digital memorabilia, however. These will offer exclusive future perks such as early access to features, sales and events. The token introduces a form of Bitcoin-like digital asset, which though doesn’t currently act as a currency per se, is said to be the predecessor of a future fashion-based cryptocurrency.

SohoMuse co-founder, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, says: “By adding blockchain technology to our comprehensive suite of tools, we are staying true to our mission of offering the best possible tools to fuel our members’ careers. This fashion show collaboration is the first of many exciting and innovative projects we will unveil as SohoMuse continues to grow.”

By introducing tokens for fashion, SohoMuse is giving designers and brands the ability to further fan engagement through fully traceable and transparent interactions. The tokens are entirely customisable in their use by the creator, thus enabling brands and designers to offer unique privileges case by case.

The blockchain integration also sets the foundation for the platform in the future by presenting a new form of digital value, ownership and a monetisation opportunity for SohoMuse’s creative community. Fashion creatives will not only be able to showcase their work, as is the basis of the network, but have an additional source of revenue by selling it.

“The tokenisation of creative work presents a tremendous opportunity for creatives operating in consumer and commercial segments – not only in terms of addressing existing issues but also in creating new opportunities for collaboration, monetisation and engagement,” says Martin Rerak, chief strategy officer of Tokenly.

Blockchain technology is already disrupting many industries from banking to music, retail and even government. For the consumer industries, it presents a big opportunity to enable new forms of value exchange between brand and customer.

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From farm to finished garment: Blockchain is aiding this fashion collection with transparency

Martine Jarlgaard London's new collection demonstrated using Provenance blockchain technology
Martine Jarlgaard London’s new collection demonstrated using Provenance blockchain technology

Given the number of parties usually involved in producing a garment, transparency in the fashion industry is no small feat.

From farmer to consumer, there are multiple steps along the way to create the t-shirts, jeans and dresses we all frequently buy. And buy we do. According to a study from McKinsey & Company, annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion items for the first time in 2014. Consumers also now keep said pieces for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, and nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made.

The demand for transparency around where our clothing comes from and exactly what’s gone on before it reaches us is increasing however, backed particularly by campaigns like #Whomademyclothes, run by Fashion Revolution each April.

According to London-based designer Martine Jarlgaard, however, what’s really going to get us there is technology: “When I think about our world and outsourcing now, we’ve gained a great distance to how things are made. We need to re-educate ourselves. Technology will be what helps to reconnect us to the people and the places involved, and that information will increase consumer expectations, which will put more pressure on the big companies.”

On that basis, she’s launched a new pilot initiative that uses blockchain technology – a distributed and secure ledger – in a bid to enable both transparency and trust around her collections.

A partnership with blockchain technology company Provenance, consultancy A Transparent Company and London College of Fashion’s Innovation Agency, it tracks the journey of raw material through the supply chain and finally to finished garment.

Each step of the process is registered and tracked on the blockchain via the Provenance app, from shearing at the British Alpaca Fashion farm, to spinning at Two Rivers Mill, through to knitting at Knitster LDN, and finally to Martine Jarlgaard, at the designer’s studio in London. Head over to Forbes to read more about it, including further insight from Jarlgaard on what she’s hoping to achieve for the industry at large by demonstrating it at this week’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit.