Sneak peek of #transparencyinfashion launching May 2017

Yarn spinning in process.

It’s Fashion Revolution Week and as we look beyond fashion for alternative solutions to the industry’s issues, Neliana Fuenmayor embarks on a pilot with Martine Jarlgaard and Fashion Innovation Agency using Provenance blockchain technology to track a garment from farm to finished product.

With a fashion design background and sustainability at the core of my practice, I have been looking at other sectors such as the food industry here at Provenance to find alternative solutions to the issue’s fashion is facing today. Fashion supply chains are complex. Second only to the oil industry, fashion is considered to be one of the most polluting industries in the world. In an industry that is supposed to be all about beauty and aesthetics, it is not very appealing to be part of the problem.  Blockchain technology has provided me with some of the answer to my questions around greater and trusted transparency. How can we make sure that claims like ‘made ethically’ or ‘organic cotton’ are not taken lightly? And that the brands making these claims are held accountable?

#whomademyclothes on the governance agenda

Transparency in fashion is a hot topic this week, especially after the second release of Fashion Revolution Week’s ‘Fashion Transparency Index’ which assesses 100 brands based on their shared information on policy, governance and traceability audits, among other parameters. The index launched on May 24, 2017, during Fashion Question Time at the Parliament chaired by Mary Creagh MP, joined by a panel of fashion, education and NGO experts. Looking at what has been done in the past four years of the #whomademyclothes hashtag movement, with over 156 million impressions last year, while also assessing what the movement needs to change on a glo-cal level, is part of the next governance agenda. For real global change, I believe fashion should embrace openness and look for solutions beyond the common practices. Technology can be one of the areas enabling brands to be more transparent.

Fashion Revolution released Fashion Transparency Index 2017

Connecting the chain

This is where blockchain comes into the picture. As Provenance founder Jessi Baker explains, “Blockchain can be the source for universal truth about our materials and products.”  As consumers, we want to get what we are paying for, especially if we choose to pay a premium. This is because the product communicates that it is better made, or that you can trace it back to the main source, whether from a farm or the actual animal, substantiating what the product claims to be.

We’ve spent the past months working on a world first fashion pilot that aims to give a voice to every business along a supply chain, while proving blockchain’s revolutionary role in transparency. The pilot, in collaboration with creative director, sustainability and tech champion Martine Jarlgaard and Fashion Innovation Agency tracks a garment from farm through production and beyond, all registered on the blockchain with corresponding claims, volumes and location data.

We’ll be showcasing this blockchain garment at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit as part of their new initiative Solutions Lab on May 11, along with interactive smart tags, as the first proof of concept applying blockchain technology to track a garment from raw material to finished product.

The journeys made by our clothes remain largely unseen. They may have started life in a field and then travelled across a vast network, in many countries, through the hands of hundreds of workers, working for dozens of different companies, before reaching our wardrobes.


The future of transparency is now

As an advocate for #transparencyinfashion and founder of A Transparent Company, I am excited about the future of discovering the story behind what we wear, right at the point of purchase. I’m also excited to help brands use Provenance to bring these stories to their own points of sale. My reasoning behind it is that if we get the right information at the right time, we would connect to the product with a deeper understanding of its origin and journey. This information is available to us as consumers today, and brands can step into the future of transparency sooner rather than later. Baroness Lola Young, who spearheaded the Modern Slavery Act 2015, believes that brands who are not open would have to explain “why you are not being transparent.”

The future of trust relies on the level of transparency companies choose to have, for consumers who buy into their vision. For brands, connecting the physical and the digital is an advantage for fostering trust and loyalty, not only as a communication tool but for sustainable innovation to thrive within the future of fashion.