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Bestseller will trace 25 million garments through pioneering blockchain collaboration

By Kristopher Fraser

29 Apr 2022

Business

Image: Bestseller Facebook page

Blockchain is providing fashion and style companies with the opportunity to explore new potential. Fashion retailer Bestseller will be one of the first major retailers to explore the power of blockchain in relation to fashion. The company is scaling a new blockchain solution to improve product traceability. Investments in traceability solutions are needed to ensure consumers get products they can trust and simultaneously ensure compliance with expected EU requirements for digital product passports.

As consumers become more invested in where their products come from and the lifecycle of a product, demand for product traceability is on the rise. Digital product passports are part of Europe’s eco-design rules making them the norm for all products to have information necessary to enable circularity.

Following on from the close collaboration on several successful pilot projects, Bestseller is now expanding its partnership with innovator TextileGenesis to trace man-made cellulosic fibers and direct-to-farm cotton throughout Bestseller's supply chain. As advocates for sustainable fashion continue trying to get more companies to go-green, it all starts with the supply chain. Creating a sustainable supply chain is the step one for any retailer looking to become more sustainable.

Specifically, Bestseller will this year trace the fibers in approximately 25 million pieces of garments from raw material to end product. That already represents around seven percent of the company's total volume - a figure that will increase steadily in the coming years if this project meets its objectives.

"Through our collaboration with TextileGenesis, we can ensure transparency and validation for a significant part of our fibers and products. It feeds directly into our Fashion FWD strategy, and will not only affect Bestseller, but can lead the entire fashion industry in a more transparent and sustainable direction," said Danique Lodewijks, senior project specialist at Bestseller Sustainability, in a statement.

From 2024, the EU is expected to introduce a requirement for each product to have a digital passport. TextileGenesis' solution will help Bestseller meet those requirements, marking a major step forward for Bestseller - and for the fashion industry in general.

"On some parameters, we have certainly not come far enough in the fashion industry when it comes to the ability to trace all our products, which will be a future requirement. Neither in Bestseller. On the other hand, with this collaboration we are taking a big step ahead of many others, as we already from this year are able to track several million products from start to finish," said Lodewijks in a statement.

Together with a group of key suppliers, Bestseller is now embarking on the first part of the platform's implementation phase. The project will require significant input from the suppliers, who will now have to use TextileGenesis' new platform. The hope for them is that this becomes an industry-wide tool, equipping them with the capacity to deliver product level-transparency in line with the expected EU legislation.

"We will gather feedback from the suppliers and with their input our objective is to create a system that is both workable and scalable for the entire supply chain. If this solution works the way it is intended, it would be a profound step forward in supply chain transparency," said Pernille Bruun, materials manager in Bestseller Global Supply Chain, in a statement.

"Through this platform we can trace every step in the production process, giving us access to information we have not had previously, and enabling us to deliver stronger transparency to our company and customers," she added.

The implementation of TextileGenesis' technology has demanded a close collaboration with everyone involved working as one global team with on-boarding and training of hundreds of suppliers across more than 10 countries.

"Bestseller has an extremely open, pragmatic yet bold approach to creating end-to-end supply chain traceability. This collaboration has challenged us to continuously innovate and create one of the most pioneering traceability systems in the industry," said Amit Gautam, TextileGenesis' founder and CEO, in a statement.

In total, TextileGenesis expects to roll out their solution to 400-500 suppliers across all tier levels.

"Focusing on complete fiber-to-retail traceability at scale, BESTSELLER is at the cutting-edge in the industry. It's a significant step forward for the fashion industry, and partnerships like this one really pave the way for the entire industry to think and act boldly when it comes to supply chain traceability and transparency," Amit Gautam said in a statement.

Since the global COVID-19 pandemic, fashion brands have been focusing on how to make their supply chains more environmentally friendly. Blockchain helps companies track production from raw materials to finished goods. Fashion industry supply chains can be very complex, because materials from multiple countries and sources can be used to create just one product.

Blockchain characters, like consensus, decentralization, and immutability, make it great create a secured and trusted traceability program. Blockchain helps fashion brands see where goods were bought and imported. They can also validate materials authenticity and distribution of goods.

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