The necessity of traceability and demand for transparency

Both pairs of terms in the headline – traceability and transparency / necessity and demand – have got a similar meaning, which turns then different to complement one another by virtue of a few nuances. Accordingly, we have felt entitled to describe, in the following article, three experiences, which are different to some extent, though linked to each other by the same need. We are talking about Borbonese, Mulberry and Aura Blockchain

A fine, particularly important, red line symbolically connects some projects that are exploring, in an active and evolutive way, the necessity of traceability in the fashion and luxury industry. We have picked and selected three of them, which we consider quite relevant, at various levels, as they fulfil the urgent demand for transparency.

The necessity of traceability

Case number 1: Borbonese

In Italy, Borbonese have signed a partnership agreement with La Granda, a consortium of farmers based in Piemonte, and LABA, a tannery based in the province of Vicenza: such project enables the brand to support its work for sustainability by setting a plan as a guarantee for the leather industry. Chief Executive Officer Alessandro Pescara illustrated it during “Sulla nostra pelle. Dialoghi sulla bellezza” (“On our leather. Talks about beauty”), one of the webinars, actually the third one, promoted by UNIC – Italian Tanneries and arranged in collaboration with daily newspaper Il Foglio.

“At present everyone speaks about sustainability, yet the topic is multi-faceted and requires further attention. My team and I – pointed out Pescara – have been striving to get the big picture, starting from corporate culture, and following our way up to products, by talking to our partners. We have been attending conventions and meetings. We discussed it along with our suppliers since we do not know everything about the brand and, consequently, we need to refine some processes by working in synergy with our suppliers”. The aim is a “clear, certified, aligned with our costs and transparent accomplishment”, which “can be shared with our customers”.

Borbonese have focused their attention on three industries: namely leather, nylon, and canvas. “We were wondering: can leather be sustainable – continued the Chief Executive Officer –? By all means. Our company has made a commitment to work hand in hand with suppliers to make sure the material runs smoothly across all stages, including environmental footprint and the welfare of animals and workers”. In such context they have placed a partnership project with La Granda, a consortium of farmers based in Piemonte.

“They founded it in 1996: it provides the best conditions for cattle rearing, from feeding to veterinary treatment – wrapped up Pescara –. The consortium supplies us with a number of hides and skins: before making use of them for our collections, we pass them to LABA tannery”. In so doing, Borbonese successfully make leather traceable. We know everything about it.

Case number 2: Mulberry

While presenting their Made to Last, Mulberry rhetorically wonder if “a bag can save the world”. In other words, that is their manifesto to achieve a specific goal: zero emissions, net, by 2035. Such target directly engages the management of relations in the industry. More specifically, upstream.

In fact, Mulberry are going to opt for “hyper-local and hyper-transparent” supplies from a few selected local tanneries, that is British, to pursue a “zero-kilometre” approach and therefore reduce transportation as much as emissions of carbon. “We are working in collaboration with a few leading tanneries in the industry – announced the fashion brand – as we aim to develop the lowest carbon-footprint leather in the world, coming from rearing farms committed to environment safeguard”. In so doing, in the next few months the English brand will be able to launch its very first bags winking at the concept of “from farms to finished products.

Since the market is always on the lookout for leather, we decided to make use of low carbon-footprint leather. On top of that, we shall remove all unclear issues out of our supply chain”, pointed out Thierry Andretta, Chief Executive Officer of Mulberry, while speaking to Fashion Network. Leather: likewise, we know everything about it.

Case number 3: Aura Consortium

Although the case of Aura Blockchain Consortium, created by LVMH, Richemont and Prada, is another story, compared to the previous two, the goal they want to achieve looks a great deal similar. Yet the Consortium is open to all luxury products and plays with all the brands in the industry.

It is not a coincidence that Kering are planning to join it apparently. The overall aim is nearly trivial: to help buyers trace and track the origin and authenticity of luxury goods. Which way? By providing them with direct access to the product history, its certificate of ownership, its warranty and service record.

Aura, whose operation headquarters will be based in Geneva, has been developed in partnership with Microsoft and ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company headquartered in New York.

They released a joint announcement to highlight that “luxury brands can tell a unique story about the quality of their materials, craftsmanship and creativity”; they also emphasized the importance of their blockchain by saying it would “enhance buyers’ trust in the brands’ endeavours for sustainability and product supply”.

Louis Vuitton, who first took advantage of Aura platform, have already issued a “highly remarkable” number of certificates.

Looking at retailers, such blockchain will also provide them with a valuable tool against fake products and their distribution on a side market (Chinese daigou, for example). In fact, it will shed light on the history of each item by looking into the whole manufacturing chain which lies behind. In this instance: we know everything about everything.

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