Imagine a world where you could instantly access the sustainability credentials of a garment. Where, with the quick scan of a QR code, you could know its fiber content, carbon footprint, water & chemical usage, and labor conditions under which it was made. And when you no longer wear it, you could instantly connect with markets to repair, rent, re-sell or recycle it. Imagine the impact this could have on the fashion industry. How this information could empower individuals to make responsible purchasing decisions. The way it could open up a whole new industry from garments that would otherwise be disposed of. Imagine how this could incentivize the industry to design for durability and sustainability. Well, this is not some far flung reality, it is here now. Digital Product Passports are a powerful new tool that have the potential to reshape our linear fashion model into something more sustainable, more circular. Let’s find out more about them…
What are Digital Product Passports?
As the name suggests a Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a digital document that stores information about a product's (or garment's) journey throughout its lifecycle. Just as a passport records and stores information about an individual's travel history throughout life, a DPP records and stores information about a garments movement through each stage of the value chain with data being added at each 'event' in its lifecycle (i.e. design, production, manufacturing, sale, distribution, use, repair, rental, re-sale and recycling). In this way DPPs have the potential to digitize the entire supply chain from point of production to the end of a garments life.
How do DPPs work?
DPPs are stored in the cloud and linked to a physical garment through a washable physical tag. To access a garment's DPP, customers simply use their smartphones to scan the tag (in the form of a QR code, NFC or RFID) which is sewn or embedded into the garment. This instantly unlocks information contained in the cloud and transmits it to the customers smartphone. The beauty of DPPs is that data can be continually added and accessed as the physical garment moves through each stage of the value chain - creating a dynamic 'living' record of a garments life. This is made possible through the use of blockchain technology.
What information do DPPs store?
DPPs offer boundless possibilities for data capture and sharing. In the case of sustainability, brands could use DPPs to provide customers with instant access to the ethical and environmental credentials of their garments at point-of-purchase. Details such as material composition, carbon emissions, water/chemical usage and labor conditions could be captured and made instantly accessible. This information would be useful for customers wishing to make informed purchasing decisions, but also for recyclers to determine the fiber content of a garment at its end of life. DPPs could also be embedded with useful information such as preferred repair, rental, resale or recycling partners to help funnel used clothing into re-commerce markets and ultimately divert clothing from landfill.
What brands are using DPPs?
Digital Product Passports are currently being adopted by fashion brands in collaboration with a number of different tech start-ups. In May 2021 Pangaia, in collaboration with New York tech start-up EON, launched a line of clothing with DPPs enabling customers to access the sustainability credentials of a garment through a QR code. EON is also collaborating with brands including H&M, Target, PVH and YOOX Net-a-Porter Group and is working with luxury brands Burberry, Stella McCartney and Chloe on their goal to digitize all of their products by 2025. Meanwhile Levi Strauss & Co and luxury brands such as LVMH and Kering are jumping on board and digitizing their garments through collaborations with tech start ups Evrythng, Arianee and Aura Blockchain Consortium.
DPPs and fashion's future
Digital Product Passports are a tool that can enable transparency and circularity in fashion. By tracking a garment from its very beginnings as a fiber through to its disposal they provide visibility over how we are making, using and disposing of our garments. Not only this, DPPs offer an easy and seamless way for brands and customers to tap into re-commerce markets - retaining the value of our garments well past point-of-sale and keeping them in circulation for longer. DPPs offer a glimpse of what is possible - an interactive fashion ecosystem in which all actors in the system can add, share and act-on information about a garment in order to keep it in use (and out of landfill) for as long as possible. Now that's something to be excited about!
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