Blockchain and the transparent supply chain
Both designers and consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact the fashion industry and their clothes have on the environment. This is leading to a greater demand for transparency within the fashion industry. This research discusses the need for improved data flows if the textile industry is to be digitally ready for blockchain adoption.
Blockchain is a technology which assists in accurate tracking and affords fast tracing in order to build transparency. Although blockchain and related technologies could facilitate better tracking and tracing, the adoption of these technologies is not without its challenges. Tracking of fibres and tracing of finished products is difficult to achieve due to the complex nature of communications and data collection along the supply chain, not to mention the industry’s grip on trade secrets.
This project saw the development of a prototype blockchain, tracing the origin of a single garment. Through the process it was discovered that blockchain technologies are not readily accessible for small to medium enterprises and that a number of challenges need to be overcome. These include designing user interfaces that are specific to the terminology used in the fashion industry and increasing stakeholder confidence along the supply chain.
The project identified a number of steps those in the fashion industry could take now to prepare for when blockchain is more readily available. These include:
- Trace as far back in your supply chain as possible.
- Get to know the stakeholders in your supply chain, build relationships now to be able to collaborate in the future.
- Present this information publicly to consumers, move away from a model of trade secrets towards one of transparency and co-opetition (that is collaborative competition).
- Start to implement technologies such as QR Codes and RFIDs now – that will be able to seamlessly plug in to blockchain when it becomes more readily available
- Understand that many types of data and data collection devices can be used as evidence to verify transactions. This can include photographs, videos, certifications or automated data.
Other Team Members
- Cait Hopper