Digital passports for clothing could be the way of the future
It sounds strange, but there’s a good chance that digital passports for clothing will be the way of the future for the clothing industry.
It does sound weird but it’s actually a very clever way of keeping track of garments, what they’re made of and where they are in the supply chain.
But why do we need to know that, to begin with?
Well, the answer lies in sustainability.
Why things need to change in the fashion industry
Thinking about climate change and what’s damaging the planet, we tend to focus on things like oil companies and the mining industry, but the truth is, the apparel industry plays a huge part in greenhouse emissions.
In fact, the World Resources Institute estimates that about 5% of greenhouse gasses come from the apparel industry – that’s more than shipping and aviation combined.
It is difficult to get any specific figures for the garment industry’s impact on the climate as it is such a mix of different elements.
A single T-shirt can be made up of different components from different countries.
The cotton might have been farmed in Bangladesh, while the dye used was made in India. It may have then been sewed together in Thailand and then packaged and shipped from China.
One thing we can agree on is all this production and transportation has consequences for the environment.
The circular economy
However, it’s not just how fabrics are made which is the issue – it’s waste that’s the biggest problem facing the fashion industry today. Thanks to Fast Fashion, we are now buying more clothes now than ever before.
Unfortunately, this also means we’re discarding more clothes than ever before.
The World Bank says 87% of the fabric in fashion garments ends up being incinerated or sent to a landfill, and most of those within a year of buying them.
This is where the Circular Economy comes in.
The brainchild of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy is a framework that aims for all materials and products in society to be used and circulated among people for as long as possible, all in an environmentally safe, effective, and fair manner.
The idea is simple; create less waste, use things more, and recycle when they come to the end of their life.
The problem with the fashion industry is, its business model relies on us discarding old clothes and buying new ones.
This doesn’t fit well with the circular economy, the whole point of which is to keep things for as long as possible.
How digital passports for clothing can help
One of the greatest hindrances to creating a circular fashion economy has been product identification and lack of transparency.
We don’t know for certain where a garment was made, how old it is, or even what it is made of.
Fortunately, the answer to all this might lie in technology.
New York start-up Eon says it can give clothes their own digital identity, allowing the lifecycle of the garment to be freely available for everyone to see.
Powered by a QR code or an RFID chip, the digital passports bring to life each garment’s unique journey.
Consumers can simply unlock the history of the garment with their phone by scanning the label, allowing them to see the product’s origin through to its purchase, transportation and aftercare.
This digital passport will track the item throughout its lifetime, including information like what it’s made of, which brand originally sold it, and if it has even been recycled.
The digital record can even include fashion tips, such as how a purchaser might pair it with other items or give advice on marketing.
Eon has been developing this idea for several years now and has partnered with fashion brands and retailers like Net-a-Porter and H&M.
We all need to work towards sustainability
Passports for clothing is just one example of how change is happening in the fashion industry, with more and more brands making the switch to sustainable practices.
It’s now painfully obvious the apparel industry needs to change.
Clothing designer Eileen Fisher recently claimed the clothing industry was second only to oil when it comes to global pollution.
But it’s not just enough for companies to become more sustainable, consumer habits need to also change.
With the world evolving and changing, people are starting to change with it, and circular fashion is possibly the next stage of the industry.
Hopefully, digital passports can go some way to helping that transition.
If you would like to know more about the circular economy or how we can assist to make business more sustainable, then contact us today.
Our friendly and experienced team will be happy to chat about you and your unique needs.