This week AirRobe had the pleasure of attending Consensus New York 2019, the world’s premiere conference on blockchain technology.
How blockchain can help the luxury goods industry
Blockchain allows the tracking of assets on a secure ledger which everyone can see. One of the hot topics at this year’s Consensus was authentication of luxury products: whether blockchain could be used to track luxury goods from their point of manufacture.
Why is this important? Because counterfeiting is a $100 billion USD cost to the luxury industry per year. Today, supply chains of luxury goods are non-transparent, making it difficult to verify authenticity. These data identity issues which fuel fraudulent markets are harming the entire fashion industry.
So, what would a blockchain solution look like? Well, by applying a digital fingerprint (called a hash) to a particular item – for example a handbag – at the point of manufacture, a blockchain solution could be used to log each time the item changes hands. From manufacturer, through the supply chain, to customer, and beyond.
Imagine if you could use your smartphone to scan a QR code built onto your pre-loved handbag, and it would bring up the life cycle of the bag; a ledger of transactions showing each change of hands. You could inspect the ledger of transactions and trace the item all the way back to the point of manufacture to check its authenticity.
What the experts think…
A panel of thought leaders came together at Consensus to discuss the idea of blockchain as a solution for authentication of luxury goods.
It was generally agreed that while blockchain is not the silver bullet to everything, it may well be a helpful tool in the fight against counterfeiting. However, the technology is still in its infancy and luxury fashion brands are worried about the reputational risk of diving into this new technology. Making blockchain work for this use case will take time but it will also take industry coordination, collaboration and commitment of resources.
It was also discussed that beyond authentication, blockchain offers other benefits to the fashion industry. Creating transparent and audible supply chains will help combat other systemic issues such as cheap and forced labour and unsustainable work practices.
Seizing the opportunity
Consumers are valuing sustainability and quality in what they purchase now more than ever. Millennials are alive to issues of sustainability and ethical supply chain. As an industry we are at an inflection point. At AirRobe we see this as an opportunity for change. It is up to the industry to harness blockchain and other emerging technologies to achieve these ends. AirRobe is up for the challenge.