Transparency is a hot issue in the $2.4 trillion garment industry. On the one hand are groups like Human Rights Watch and their tireless campaigning for greater transparency in supply chains. That’s lead to companies as diverse as Adidas, H&M Group, Patagonia, Gap and others to publish details about their suppliers.

Then there’s the other side.

Factory collapses, human rights abuses and staggering statistics like 71% of fashion brands believing they probably have modern slavery occurring at some point in their supply chain, according to the Ethical Trading Initiative.

Can blockchain help make the industry fairer, more transparent, better for the environment and change the future of fashion?

These five companies certainly think so.

Tracking the journey raw materials take to becoming clothes with Provenance

Provenance, a blockchain software company is helping fashion labels get a grip on their raw materials.

By using blockchain and a unique smart labelling system, the company can track raw materials at every step of the production process.

Provenance collaborated with London-based designer Martine Jarlgaard to create the world’s first tracked garment using blockchain. That whole journey was made available to consumers when they scanned the clothing label in store, allowing them to explore the history of a product and ensure the raw materials came from sustainable sources.

Helping streamline global supply chains with Faizod

For a shipping container transporting cargo from China to Europe, at least 30 parties (companies, customs authorities, and other organizations) are involved in handling.

This results in approximately 200 interactions, with each interaction requiring several documents.

That creates multiple layers of often overlapping bureaucracy and potential for problems and errors to creep in. That’s where Faizod comes in.

They’ve created Global Supply Chain, which uses blockchain technology to create a series of chains; finance, manufacturing, sub-contractors and allows them to seamlessly interact with each other while providing complete transparency over how products are made, moved and paid for.

Because it allows real time tracking, it means companies can identify bottlenecks as they begin to develop, not after they’ve become a problem.

Creating the world’s first peer-to-peer fashion ecosystem with Fashion Coin

The fashion industry is one built on hierarchies. A designer creates, that design is transferred to a manufacturer, before being handed over to a shipping and logistics company and then it goes into marketing where there are more hierarchies involved in the promoting, advertising and ultimate selling of garments.

What would happen if you turned it into a peer-to-peer ecosystem? Say hello to Fashion Coin.

Built upon blockchain, in this re-imagining of the ecosystem a customer can connect directly with designer, stylist, model, photographer, influencer and other members involved in garment production.

Those customers can then play a role in the creation process, promotion, pricing and even invest in early designs of a product, all while being incentivised via a specially built token.

Uniting the fashion and design industry with Lukso

Think of the world’s fashion companies, then think about all the servers, CMS, supply chain management systems and internal messaging services that keep the lights on.

Now imagine how many are currently exploring their own blockchains. Bit wasteful, isn’t it? Enter Lukso.

Lukso is intended to be a platform for many companies to build blockchain applications on top of, making those projects interoperable, leading to a larger network, and greater viability for trust in that network.

Built on Ethereum, the project will be open-source allowing brands to develop and improve the community, while never owning the network.

Preventing fake products from eating into sales with VeChain

Counterfeit goods in fashion are a $450 billion global industry. They jeopardise sales and dilute brand reputations. As counterfeiters become quicker at making and distributing fakes, many fashion labels are struggling to fight off the phony competition.

That’s where VeChain comes in.

VeChain creates a digital trace of physical items, backed up by the blockchain. Each item is given a unique ID, which is paired with either a NFC chip or a QR code, depending on the client’s requirements.

That binds the item’s digital identity to real-world transactions. It’s like a passport that’s scanned or swiped every time the product undergoes a different action on the supply chain, like having its ID registered, or moving from a warehouse in Vietnam to a store in London.

The company paired up with Chinese fashion brand BabyGhost to create a range of trackable products that allowed customers to determine whether products were real or not.

The future

Fashion is changing. As these companies develop, deploy and mature - and others join the space - there will be fewer reasons for fashion companies not to be open, transparent and connected to their customers in more intimate ways than ever before.

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