Expert’s Opinion: Relevance of blockchain technology in apparel industry

by Apparel Resources

28-October-2019  |  8 mins read

Blockchain-driven retail or manufacturing process is growing at a phenomenal rate. However, it is worth mentioning that the blockchain technology is still at its infancy even as the large and small retailers and manufacturers are starting to involve it in their functioning. Blockchain technology helps in providing the transparency through its decentralised data storage solution across the vast network of supply chains, which the industry lacks otherwise.

Professionals speak about the implications of the incorporation of such a technology in their brand/organisation and how is it helping in the growth.

Mohit Dhanjal, Business Head – Shirting (B2C), Raymond Limited

Blockchain technology can be used for enhancing the Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) covering product designers and brand owners. The goods can be tracked through blockchain technology, their authenticity can be easily verified by brand owners, retailers and consumers, reducing counterfeiting and fraud.

‘Brand Provenance’ also plays a critical role in this technology. We can have ‘Smart Label’ that the consumer can scan to see every step in the production process, from raw material to finished product, complete with time stamps and location maps for every step – even identifying the source of our product. This transparency and engagement can be a unique selling point for consumers who increasingly want to know the source of the products and in some case, the process.

In today’s fast moving age, millennial and customer dynamics are not consuming as much fast fashion as they tend to lean towards the concept of ‘sustainability’. Companies are beginning to take note, in some cases attempting to transform their business models on sustainability; blockchain technology can provide the robust framework of ‘Transparency’ and ‘Traceability’ for these products.

For us, this could be a game changer in fabric business wherein customers can get to know the product journey across various categories like wool (sourced from Merino wool sheep); cotton (world’s finest cotton from Egypt) and linen (100 per cent natural) to state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, Custom Tailoring Hubs where the ensembles get crafted for our customers, giving the brand and the consumer a whole new realm of product experience in the age of technology.

Rajendra Agarwal, Mentor, Donear Industries

Bereft of adapting to technology, brands will fade. Across the value chain, there is a constant need for mitigating errors to prevent any dire lags.

From a manufacturing standpoint, to improve efficiency, it is important to fuse the on-ground technology parameters with smarter ways to analyse data. Blockchain helps track-and-trace goods in real-time which boosts communication and eradicates snags – a comprehensive dashboard that allows everyone to identify defects, delays and process-driven errors.

In the apparel industry, as we are aware, there are many components that need to be assembled for the final garment to be produced. Blockchain helps interlink multiple suppliers on a common dashboard to seamlessly track all milestones and ensures that the forecasted timelines are met.

Vipul Mathur, Retail Industry Expert

In my view, the current place where blockchain has started is to identify the origin of the garment, which means if any of the garment is using specialised fibres, then in order to track the real origin and be sure about it, blockchain is used. Blockchain is capable of projecting that a garment is made from a particular fabric, the fabric has been manufactured with a particular thread, the thread has been manufactured with a particular fibre and so on and so forth.

Lenzing has started to do that with some of its batches. So going forward for me, it looks like blockchain will become an integral part of the consumer demand when consumers would want to know how have their garments, or for that matter, any retail product, travelled through to my hand, which all countries or material mix or process route it has gone through to come to us. Eventually, my hope is that each garment will start to come with a certain number which if the consumer scans, or identifies or puts in the system, will help to trace down the whole product cycle of the piece which they are holding in hand. That will bring about a lot of transparency, clarity, trustworthiness and authenticity in the whole transaction of the business. It will prevent pilferages, fakes, unreal mixing, and hence, the original supplier will benefit as they can get the consumers’ trust and consumers will benefit because they will know that the value which they are paying is for a genuine reason. I think another usage of blockchain could be in the front-end wherein the companies will start to then look at the position of their inventory. My sense is that eventually RFID and blockchain will merge, wherein it will create a certain kind of trajectory on how the garment has travelled, and maybe in future if common norms permit, RFIDs can be identifiable from a location point of view.

So blockchain is a fantastic supply chain identification tool which creates a complete visibility of usage, of existence of material and it can be clubbed with multiple other technologies like RFID.

Sandeep Gonsalves, Co-founder, SS Homme

Blockchain technology is a promising new avenue in fashion since it allows consumers of designer luxury labels to certify the authenticity of a design. Incorporating the technology will help us provide our clients with a platform where they have one tracking ID and see all the entries exclusively recorded by the brand. It helps maintain transparency and build trust among the end-consumer. It is a very robust concept as the records cannot be altered or erased by anyone, so there is no room for fraudulence.

However, home-grown designer labels like ours have a long way to go before this can have a widespread implementation. It takes a long time to make consumers aware of any new technology and it takes even longer for them to actually embrace the process. Our goal is to implement this once we expand worldwide and then actually invest in informing consumers about the benefits of the same to completely eliminate middlemen and copycats from the equation once and for all.

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