How Fashion Can Use Digital IDs

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Background:

Each interaction a brand has with a consumer typically ends when a product is sold. Digital IDs have the potential to extend that exchange, integrating digital initiatives with products’ physical lives. A a flock of start-ups and fashion power brokers want every item of clothing, watch or handbag to have a digital twin, meaning, QR code-enabled garments that lead to a website packed with information such as an item’s material breakdown or suggestions on how to style it. It’s a concept that is well-established in the automobile industry and a few other sectors, but has yet to gain traction in fashion. Proponents believe it could unlock enormous potential for consumers and brands.

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“It’s moving from this very transactional relationship that brands have with customers into this service-based continuous relationship between brands and customers,” said Natasha Franck, founder and chief executive of Imaginary Ventures-backed digital ID-maker Eon at BoF’s Technology Summit.

Franck and Imaginary Ventures’ Natalie Massenet join BoF technology correspondent Marc Bain to discuss Eon, how the technology works and highlight the opportunities digital IDs could create for fashion.

Key Insights:

  • Eon makes digital twins of physical products in the cloud based on information embedded in items using a NFC chip, RFID tag or QR code for partners including H&M, Gabriela Hearst and Zalando.
  • Massenet compares Eon’s work to building railroads at the beginning of the industrial revolution. The tracks are still being laid, but she says digital IDs have the potential to drive more connections and commerce.
  • Digital IDs represent a first step toward connecting consumers with web3 initiatives like the metaverse, could enable more seamless reselling and re-ordering as well as allow brands and influencers to collect royalties on sales.
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Additional Resources:

  • What Digital IDs Can Do for Fashion: Proponents of the effort to give every item its own digital identity say they’ll unlock numerous benefits for brands and shoppers alike. But for these IDs to work will require overcoming some big obstacles first.
  • Is Fashion Ready to Put Its Supply Chain on the Blockchain?: H&M and Kering are among the fashion players that have recently launched pilot programmes to trace their supply chains using blockchain technology.
  • The Year Ahead: What Product Passports Will Do for Brands: Brands are adopting new technologies that store and share product information to improve authentication, provide transparency and boost consumer trust. However, for “product passports” to truly gain traction, businesses must coalesce around common standards and engage with pilot projects at scale.
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