Have you ever wondered where those jeans were made that you've slipped into this morning? I mean, think about it. Trace the process back from the store where you bought them to where they began as raw materials, something like this: store > retail warehouse > distribution center> customs dock > freight vessel > port of origin > factory…> ??? I think most won't think beyond the factory, call it convenient or misunderstood but who and what processes entail that first mile of production? The reality is that most of us have no idea.
How do you know if the jeans you are wearing right now were made, in part, by child labor or perhaps the raw materials sourced to weave the fabrics made in sweatshops hidden from the worlds eye?
Provenance means "the place of origin," and all too often we don't think clearly about where the clothes that we wear originated and who made them.
So how do we change the way we think and transition to social accountability for where things are made and by whom? It all starts with us, the customers, we need to drive changes necessary to impact the thinking and investment from fashion brands into technology and frameworks essential for supply chains to provide transparency.
One of many solutions to help solve this problem may lie in the distributed ledger technology that Blockchain brings to the table creating an opportunity to connect business transactions from source to customer transparently. When combined with procurement, manufacture process and supply chain tracking, the data from the source could become available. Giving people unprecedented access to understanding how a product is sourced, manufactured and shipped on a global scale.
The good news is that sustainability has already been positioned at the center of innovation in the fashion industry in years to come, however, this largely depends on how supply chains embrace technologies to enhance transparency.
Unsurprisingly millennials will be most likely to lead the charge in demanding sustainability and provenance through the fashion industry. In turn, fashion retailers will need to extend capabilities to meet new transparency levels and for those who embrace these practices will enjoy the competitive advantage.
Without a doubt this problem requires dedication from champions and innovators to lead the way, showing the fashion industry how to drive innovation and value by integrating provenance across the entire value chain.
-Tao Global is a technology business based in Sydney, Australia that provides provenance and transparency to the fashion apparel industry. Our technology enables the ability to continue to tell the “Cotton to Customer” brand story beyond the point of purchase.