Blockchain 101 for Fashion and Luxury

At the February show, Première Vision invited Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, CEO & Co-Founder of Arianee and co-founder and curator of Foundashion to explore how the fashion and luxury industry can use Blockchain technology.

Here the key takeaways from his talk:

Blockchain is neither everything, nor useless

In 2017, Blockchain was hailed the new internet – everyone would have it. By 2020, the headlines changed to blockchain is useless. The truth, according to Hurstel, is somewhere in between. A blockchain – a decentralized database – is a great system if used right. How blockchain differs from a regular database is all entries are linked together. Every time new information is entered, a copy is sent to all the servers within the blockchain.  




Why is Blockchain useful?

Since it’s immutable and any change of history is recorded – blockchain can prove something is as it should be, hence its use in supply chain traceability. More than 50% of all servers in the blockchain system must be implicated for the system to fail making it more reliable than a centralized data centre.

Blockchain to create a digital id for fashion

Arianee has developed a tool using blockchain to allow brands to generate a digital identity for individual products. Like a digital passport, this identity is a unique file that includes all the information about a product – and is generated by the brand who produces the object. The product’s serial number is recorded within its digital identity, and also found on the product itself.  Arianee is creating digital identities for watch brands at Groupe Richemont and BA&SH – which is launching resale, among other clients.

Digital identities to authenticate the brand and how a product has been made

A digital identity for a Hermes coat, say, would include its’ certifications and 3rd party audits. For a pair of Nikes – it could include dedicated information about how to recycle them and ensure best end-of-life process. A digital identity for a pair of Balenciaga trainers, could include an alert to the brand when their owner clicks on resell. The brand can then offer the customer a branded resale experience, or resale through recognized sites, including advice on price and expert qualification of what condition the trainers are in.  Meanwhile, if a product has been stolen, a customer can prove to their insurer they’re the lawful owner.

Allowing brands to communicate – while ensuring customer privacy

With a unique digital identity – a brand can communicate about a product, share certifications, and all its history –while respecting customer privacy. The digital identity is stored on devices within wallets or digital safes – which like physical safes, require an address and a password. Secure, this private wallet can receive and send information, while guaranteeing a customer’s anonymity.

Every phone will have a wallet

The Arianee vision is that any time soon, every phone will have a wallet thanks to cryptography.  This secure, anonymous wallet will contain digital representations of things we own in real life, among them fashion and luxury products. Hurstel names the Samsung wallet – which has some crypto assets, and Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra – which is going to be introduced into messenger and Whatsapp, as signs of this transformation. 




The challenges:

“What we are trying to solve is the situation of someone who buys a true and genuine product, to make sure this person can do it,” says Hurstel, adding the technology, does not solve counterfeiting but can be used alongside other systems. However to maintain digital identities, brands must have their own digital signatures and wallets, so a transformation is required within companies. On the consumer side, people must not lose their own private keyword – a suite of characters – and how we keep these passwords safe is another challenge.

Find the other reports of the Première Vision conferences in our programme section.

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