Global Fashion Industry is glamourous and full of bling that can easily blind anyone. But behind this bling lies a variety of problems which every participant of on the fashion value chain feels the pinch of. From the authenticity of designs to royalties there are tonnes of leakage points which can keep the designer away from getting its fair share. This is where a lot of people believe blockchain and cryptocurrency can come in in a dual role of that of a protector and that of a rewarder.
Blockchain: The Identity Protector
As with any industry, the fashion industry also has its own set of challenges. One of the major such challenges is forged or pirated products gushing into the market and taking away profits from established and wilful brands. The other problem which brands face due to forged products is that the quality of the items is significantly compromised thus damaging the brand’s goodwill and reputation. Another challenge with companies operating in the fashion industry is that of logistics which includes shipment tracking and timely delivery of products with the right specifications.
While all attempts to prevent both the problems have been breached several times and now with the advent of blockchain, the world believes it has the potential to solve a majority of these problems. Below are a few use cases that fashion brands are testing blockchain for:
- Intellectual property protection: Using blockchain, designer, cloth manufacturers and other participants of the fashion value chain can protect their brands against counterfeiting and forging. For each fashion item, its origin and ownership would be easy to track all the way up to its original source. Counterfeit and forged product or their cheaper replicas will not have an authentic chain of records, and thus can be easily rooted out.
- Tracking of Origin: Using blockchain along with Internet-of-Things (IoT) and other technologies such as RFID, raw materials authenticity could be tracked from their source to all the way up to finished products including every stop of the value chain and its distribution networks. The origin of each item can be tracked, and substandard materials can be eliminated out at the source itself
- Creation of Reliable supply chain: Whether it is the supply of raw materials or shipment to the end consumer, the supply chain industry is still rife with inefficiencies and mismanagement
A few projects and startups have already set their foot out to help the fashion Industry. A start-up called Banofi (previously called Group Project) in Los Angeles aims to tackle the counterfeiting issues in the fashion industry by verifying the authenticity of luxury goods on a blockchain. This is basically the same approach as Provenance, but Group Project’s solution involves a patent and trademark pending “Crypto-Tag” chip which talks to smartphones, but only through their proprietary mobile app.
Cryptocurrency- The Rewarder
While blockchain has been a great identity protector for the fashion and luxury industry on the manufacturers’ side, cryptocurrency is foreseen as a great rewarder on the consumer side. With the advent of e-commerce style, discovery and curation to have slowly become a big market. Today fashion relies on a constant renewal of ideas, a continuous “delete and refresh” if one wants to use those words. Because of these changes, designers are no longer purely creators, they have become curators as well. As museum curators reshuffle or bring in artwork to keep the visitors excited, fashion designers’ role has become something similar. Curating is not only about being creative in what to pick out and use from the sea of available ideas; but also, in presenting those older ideas in a fresh way. As curating involves a lot of work and expertise, curators, today feel of not being fairly compensated. Again, an area where a lot of people feel cryptocurrency could do wonders.
This has lead to the formation of Dapp’s like Curate which provides a platform-style discovery and rewards in digital tokens in the form of BTC, ETH and its own CUR8 tokens in return for users curating fashion styles. On platforms like these, fashion brands and retailers partner up with platforms to show off their latest styles, raise brand awareness and increase their online sales. In return, the platform provides a trustless platform allowing users to feedback a curated collection of fashion styles for the community to discover.
The world of fashion is changing on both the sides and sooner or later will be using blockchain cryptocurrency across the board. Would you call this a match made in heaven?