Blockchain in Fashion
The 4th industrial revolution is upon us, with the “innovator” firmly being put into the spotlight, being industrialized in just a few months, which is an extremely short time.
Blockchain and DLT, this brand new technology has attracted a lot of investors and pooled a large amount of capital from various industries, which has finally affected the whole ecosystem for the better. Even though more than 99percent of blockchain projects have not lived up to expectations for worse, shut down, there are still there are a lot of real- use cases which integrates blockchain tech in European countries and Asian countries.
Blockchain can be applied to the traditional industrial retail industry. However, my main focus in this article will be on the fashion industries.
How the blockchain is used in the fashion retail industry And where is the real use-case?
Let’s get right into these topics:
“what is the relationship between the blockchain and the fashion industry?”
“What is the relationship between the blockchain and the fashion brands?”
“How are the blockchain, DLT, and smart contract used in the fashion industry?”
If you were to be asked these questions, what current project would you think of?
VeChain is a block-chain project, the former Louis Vuitton’s CIO and marketing director are leading this project very proactively. This project is well known for a very substantial joint venture, one of which is, of course, Louis Vuitton.
As VeChain shows the example in its introduction video, all information like from design, production, packaging, display to shipping, will be entered into the public blockchain, and cannot be revised.
With all these data completely transparent, the consumer has peace of mind and can track all this data by themselves.
As a result, VeChain is the project who consider more from consumer’s perspective and their rights to make a more accurate and safe decision. As they keep emphasizing in the PR video, VeChain is the one of the only data-driven, seamless and transparent blockchain project in the industry.
In these days, VeChain is also well-known for launching a product which can help track the supply system for various wines using its blockchain technology. With a simple scan of wine bottles code, you can be presented with related information such as the origin, logistics and so on.
This kind of similar approach can be used in a great many industries, from production to logistics, manufacturing, sales, to commodity management.
Ultimately, by providing a one-stop APP for consumers, it not only makes it easy to judge the authenticity of goods through a smartphone or a mobile facility but also makes it possible to trace the origin of goods with one hand.
Case Study- “PROVENANCE Project”
The Provenance Project was founded back in 2014 in London, UK.
A Fashion designer Jessi Baker, who ran a small business in the local area, found the big synergy between blockchain and her business. Her goal was to integrate blockchain technology into the traditional fashion business and show consumers the entire process from designing to shipping.
Straight off the bat, from the name “PROVENANCE”, we can see what this firm and project ultimately want to achieve.
Provenance began out of a personal frustration for how little we know about the things we buy.
— Jessi Baker, Founder and CEO
Provenance Project was born for both consumers and producers.
As you can see on the official website, They divided service categories into “for Shoppers” and “for Business”. This is the big difference between VeChain and Provenance, with VeChain being predominately consumer-oriented, Provenance is working for both consumers and producers.
An extremely user-friendly API and UI makes the user experience much better, therefore, attracting more potential customers who can request a demo via the button, hopefully proceeding to carry on using the product after.
Beyond the brand name and label, Consumers are able to find more “stories” about what they eat and use, allowing them to be more confident with products they are purchasing, whilst receiving a lot of information that they otherwise would not be aware of.
For producers, By using this platform, they will pay a greater deal of attention to various issues that make consumers’ trust even greater. And as a result, they will be able to build more sustainable business and brand image to consumers.
What is Provenance’s SWOT?
1. Their big journey started in 2014, had a quick and accurate decision of introduction of blockchain technology, the most emerging technologies in the day and age.
Their “move” was fast. I cannot say for certain that if it is just because the business has started in the UK, one of the developed and open countries, and was a startup, but they have clearly understood the power of new tech and introduce the blockchain technology into their original business.
They are definitely NOT an ICO project but they also have their own white paper and according to this, it seems like they already know exactly what this tech will bring to them and what kind of vision they will have in the near future with the introduction of the blockchain.
2. A real business model and profit model to support its new project
Provenance was one of the small-medium sized fashion business company and the founder, Jessi Baker, as a designer, knew how production and distribution process went.
The transition would have been fairly easy as she knew that the introduction of new technology would make her existing business and profit model more solid.
In reality, the UK’s alpaca fashion brand called F/A is now using this platform to identify specific tracking production IDs via GPS. The platform is not only distributing interesting content of its fashion brand’s story through the blockchain system but it also shows the whole production and distribution process very transparently with a simple mobile APP. Their try was pretty Successful, and their “Proof of Concept” service was unique enough to attract some major British media.
3. User(Customer)-friendly UI and service
The first thing that really stood out to me when visiting their website was how “attractive” it really was.
As a fashion business professionals, they have set up a homepage to make it very accessible to consumers, and easy to approach and understand the service
As you can see on the website, the menu bar also is simple. The service is separated into two groups, for consumers and producers, and if the user knows which service they want, you just need to follow the order that the team has already made. So simple and clean.
Another topic that is not addressed enough today is feedback time, for various businesses this is something that seriously lacks, however, I was very impressed by how quickly I received feedback. When I began my research into this project, a lot of information was still not very clear, so I made an inquiry via their Zendesk, a customer support center. Within just three days the inquiry was responded to in an extremely professional manner and I could now see the pricing model on the homepage. Other businesses please take note.
Normally, if the company is startup and small-sized then they are not really paying attention to the customer’s feedback and support center system, so usually for other projects, it takes about one month or two weeks to receive inquiries by e-mail, or they don’t bother replying at all, but Provenance was different.
I can see that Provenance is a very well-organized start-up at this point.
SWOT: Weakness & Threats?
1. What is the current progress? How can I see the detailed progress about blockchain tech integrating?
As mentioned previously, the company and its business started in 2014, meaning the company has been around for under 5 years.
From what can be seen publicly, they have just released a simple digital tracking system with a mobile APP. This seems to be extremely slow on a roadmap front.
I would like to mention that it’s probably a very difficult task for UI/UX designers to set functions for showing all production, shipping, and various background info through an APP. I just sincerely hope they look to roll some more features very soon.
The question still left to answer, what exactly is Provenance doing with blockchain?
VeChain has been also around for a long time, however, Vechain has become even more noticeable because of the strong connection with the community and active contact with real businesses in the blockchain industry.
Comparing to this, Provenance does not seem to very proactive on this.
In 2014, the firm received a Grant of £120,000 (ie, almost a bribe that did not have any equity obligations, such as government subsidies), The first seed round happened around 3 months before, raising around £40,000, with a second seed round happening back in 2017, raising $800,000.
In the summer of 2018, they received some further investment again, but at the time of writing, there is no public figure for how much they raised.
My prediction being that when the blockchain and the Cryptocurrency begun to get more media attention in 2017, Many VCs were intrigued in the new project that Provenance had: introducing the blockchain tech into the supply chain , primarily focus on fashion. What kind of VC would not have been interested in the project who already have solid and promising revenue and business model?
But until now, supply chain + blockchain business models and profit models are overflowing. Alibaba, One of the well-known giant e-commerce company in China, is also trying to integrate blockchain tech into there exist supply system, with another e-commerce giant JD.COM also already proving its power through a tremendous partnership with unicorn blockchain companies.
VeChain is already so well known within the blockchain industry, some people will begin to question how will Provenance survive?
I do not see the answer from them.
2. What are they think of global market? and What about the APAC and Southeast Asian markets in particular?
I have contacted the firm directly, I made several inquiries via emails, Twitter and LinkedIn. But unfortunately, I was unable to receive a definite answer for this question.
Since starting their business it was apparent to me that their coverage is still very limited, only focusing on only one region, UK.
One could argue that the request for transparency in supply and retail industries is getting stronger in Asia regions predominately, such as China, Japan, and Korea.
In addition, Southeast Asia is definitely the emerging region that we all need to look out for.
China, the powerhouse of Asia is starting to focus much more closely on the food safety and Luxury markets. As the imitation market in China is in fully flourished, the authenticity and transparency are required now more than ever. And blockchain can give you the answer.
I feel it is such a shame that their main focus still seems to be so limited to one particular region, UK. You would feel that they would benefit tremendously from good partnerships with various businesses in Asia.
Of course, China isn’t all pros for projects looking to bolster their efforts into this region. There seem to be a lot of risks in the China market for blockchain start-ups, with “rumors” about the government’s micromanaging and interference, these giants that I mentioned above are not easily detectable.
All these factors will play a huge part in the decision making when looking to expand into new territories, however, the point still stands that businesses need to constantly evolve or get left behind.
In that sense, the idea to expand its market to the Asian regions is by all means necessary.
I want to have one comment: If I’m doing a fashion start-up business now, I really want to try this platform out!
Although its market is very limited, I would definitely like to meet Founder Jessi Baker, who is still running her own business with a lot of passion.
Through my research, the lessons I learned:
In the fashion industry, the use case of blockchain is very limited, with the use-case being limited even further down to distribution and supply tracking.
Is it possible to integrate blockchain in more parts of the fashion industry?
Moblie payment is florishing in the online market now, what if we integrate blockchain on mobile payment? like on alipay and wechat that we are using right now?
what if factories and designers make contracts using smart contracts instead of manually placing orders?
The third party frauds are everywhere in online markets right now, what if we can replace those brokers and third parties with blockchain?
These are the initial ideas that I have for now. But I believe there will be more fresh ideas that we can use.
To achieve this, I think that blockchain technology will have to be implemented in 2019 geared for one goal, MASS ADOPTION.
The market finds a way to filter out the projects is not cut out to be leaders, leaving only the “real businesses”.
I am a Korean blockchain content creator, currently based in Shanghai.
I am willing to research and analyze all the fresh and interesting blockchain projects and industries!
If you have any projects you would like researched, please reach out via any social media below.
For my previous articles in Korean, you can find them below：
Written and Edited by Amy Kang