The global fashion industry has always had a considerable problem as far as sustainability is concerned. Not only is the industry directly responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, but it also boasts a business model that encourages consumers to discard their old items of clothing and replace it with new ones, says Jocelyn Brown, freelance technology writer.
Although there have been many attempts to create a circular fashion economy, most efforts have been hindered by product identification concerns. Now, Eon, a New York-based start-up is promising to make the fashion industry more sustainable by leveraging the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Innovation platform issues digital birth certificates
At present, a number of top fashion brands are uploading information pertaining to their product lines to the Connected Products platform designed by Eon. The platform has IoT capabilities that can track the entire lifecycle of a fashion item. Every new fashion item is produced with a digital birth certificate that includes valuable information such as date of production and the materials used to create the item. For every item that is issued with such a certificate, a virtual replica is created that will effectively follow the item throughout its entire life cycle from new to renew.
Everyone should make an effort
A circular economy in fashion is needed as a matter of urgency with the World Bank estimating that more than 85% of the fabric used by the industry ends up in the landfill or in an incinerator. If recycling efforts aren’t increased drastically, the worldwide demand for clothes will increase to approximately 102 million tonnes within the next 10 years. It is not only mass-produced clothing lines that can do with enhanced sustainability practices. Some alternative streetwear brands have already tweaked their production processes to allow them to actively oversee all processes, ensuring that all items are of the highest possible quality. They are furthermore implementing a range of fair practices to guarantee that all items are as sustainable as can be.
The possibilities are endless
Eon has, to date, partnered with a number of brands and retailers including H&M and Net-a-Porter to try and establish a circular economy within the industry. Natasha Franck, CEO of Eon explains, “At Eon, we think there’s a difference between a digitised product and a connected product. This work has moved beyond initiative to an ecosystem and data exchange within the circular economy.” Every item that is recorded on the Eon system receives either an RFID chip or a physical product tag with a QR code on it. These digital IDs not only track the resale of items but also make it simpler to action repairs and to recycle each item in the correct manner.
The fashion industry has never had a good reputation as far as general sustainability is concerned. Thanks to companies such as Eon that are leveraging the power of IoT, however, one of the most wasteful industries in the world may soon become one of the most sustainable.
The author is freelance technology writer, Jocelyn Brown.