These losses can damage profit and reputation – which is why some brands are now turning to technology to protect their products, brand value, and consumers.
“Blockchain is a really fast-moving and complex technology,” says Daniela Ott, general secretary of the Aura Blockchain Consortium. “What Aura is all about is making blockchain easy for luxury brands.”
So far, more than 20 brands use Aura, with more than 17 million products registered on the platform, Ott says.
“These brands are competitive in every other aspect, but they are collaborating on this technology to move forward in the fastest, safest way,” she says.
‘Trace and Trust’
By creating a “digital twin” of physical products such as shoes or handbags, Aura software compiles a ledger of information such as the type and source of the material, where and when it was made, and how many products were produced.
Ott says this will give consumers a higher level of proof and protection by acting as a digital certificate of authenticity that uses “bank-level encryption” and “impossible to counterfeit” — thwarting counterfeiters. It adds that digital twins, which can be accessed via a web page or mobile app, will provide greater insight into the origin of the product, promoting “traceability and trust” around sustainability and ethical issues for conscious consumers.
However, blockchain has its limitations — information is only as reliable as the person who enters it, Ott says, warning that “if the brand doesn’t have a good relationship with the supplier, the blockchain won’t 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 “without blockchain knowledge.”
“Counterfeiting has been around for decades and is constantly evolving,” Shamard says. Vestiaire’s team of 60 validators check digital documents, including photos, before examining each item. Shamard says AI and blockchain could help speed up the digital authentication process, adding that this would help rather than replace human validators.
“We still need an expert to perform a physical check to verify all digital data,” she says, adding that if luxury brands used the same technology, it would help sellers easily access and use the information.
Ott says that Blockchain technology can also be useful beyond fashion: It can benefit luxury sectors including art, cosmetics, perfumes and furniture. In the future, Ott says, the ledger could also contain information about product maintenance and maintenance, helping to better determine the value of the product for resale.
“The measure of our success is the inclusion of every luxury brand,” Ott says.