These losses can damage both profit and reputation – which is why some brands are now turning to tech to protect their products, brand value and consumers.
“Blockchain is such a fast-moving technology, and it’s really complex,” says Daniela Ott, the general secretary of Aura Blockchain Consortium. “What Aura is all about is making blockchain easy for luxury brands.”
To date, more than 20 brands are using Aura’s software, with over 17 million products registered on the platform, says Ott.
“These brands are competitors in every other aspect, but they are collaborating on this technology to move this forward faster, in the most secure way,” she says.
“Traceability and trust”
Creating a “digital twin” for physical products like shoes or handbags, Aura’s software compiles a ledger of information such as the material type and source, where and when it was made, and how many were produced.
Ott says this will give consumers a greater level of proof and protection by acting as a digital certificate of authentication that uses “bank level encryption” and is “impossible to fake” – foiling counterfeiters. Digital twins, which can be accessed via a webpage or mobile app, will provide more insight into the product’s origin, enhancing “traceability and trust” around sustainability and ethical issues for conscious consumers, she says.
Blockchain has its limitations, though – the information is only as reliable as the person inputting it, says Ott, and warns that “if a brand does not have a good relationship with the supplier, blockchain will not help.”
Aura launched its cloud-based software in early 2022. Ott says its plug-in technology will allow brands to integrate the product into their existing operations with “zero blockchain knowledge.”
“Counterfeiting has existed for decades and is constantly advancing,” says Chammard. Vestiaire’s team of 60 authenticators check digital documentation, including photos, before examining each item. AI and blockchain could help to fast-track the digital authentication process, says Chammard, adding that this would aid the human authenticators rather than replace them.
“We would still require an expert to conduct a physical examination to verify all of the digital data,” she says, adding that if luxury brands use the same technology, it would help resellers easily access and use the information.
Blockchain could also be useful beyond fashion, says Ott: luxury sectors including art, cosmetics, perfume and furniture could benefit. In the future, Ott says the ledger could also hold information on product maintenance and upkeep, helping to better determine a product’s value for resell.
“Our measure of success is to onboard every luxury brand,” says Ott.