Here is what that means for the fashion industry
New York start-up Eon is giving each new fashion item a digital birth certificate, which includes information about where and when it was made and what it is made from. That is linked to a ‘digital twin’, a virtual replica of the real product, and a digital passport that tracks the product through its life.
For instance, an apparel item might be worn at an event by a celebrity, then resold or rented out by a designer clothing hire company, before being sold on again. All this data will appear in its digital passport.
Eon claims to be the first digitization platform to connect products across their whole lifecycle – “from new to renew”.
Using the platform, an upcycler can immediately identify a product; it also suggests pricing and advice on how to market the product. The digital record includes fashion tips, such as how a purchaser might pair it with other items.
“At Eon, we think there’s a difference between a digitized product and a connected product,” Eon CEO, Natasha Franck, told the fashion website WWD. “This work has moved beyond initiative to an ecosystem and data exchange within the circular economy.”
Eon has collaborated with fashion brands and retailers like Net-a-Porter and H&M, textile makers and resellers like Reflaunt, Save Your Wardrobe and Salvation Army Trading Company. Each item that is recorded on the platform is given a physical tag with a QR code or an RFID chip.
As well as reselling products, the digital ID makes it easier to repair them with the correct materials or to recycle them when they reach the end of their lives. This approach should result in less landfill.
The need for a circular economy in fashion is pressing. The World Bank says 87% of the fabric in fashion garments ends up being incinerated or sent to landfills. Without more recycling, global demand for apparel will surge from 62 million tonnes today to 102 million tonnes by 2030.
The fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water every year – 20% of all wastewater worldwide comes from dyeing or treating fabrics – and its annual carbon emissions dwarf the combined output of global aviation and shipping, according to World Bank data.
Eon has been selected as one of the Circulars Accelerator Cohort on UpLink, the World Economic Forum’s innovation crowdsourcing platform as a tool with the potential to speed up the move to a more circular economy in fashion.
Just 17 start-ups have been invited to join the Circulars Accelerator Cohort. Led by Accenture, the program will connect circular economy entrepreneurs with business leaders to enable them to scale up their ideas.