Is There a Future for Digital Product Passports in the Fashion Industry?
By Lindsey Hermes, Global Commercial Director, Digital Solutions at Avery Dennison
Transparency in the fashion supply chain has become a significant issue in recent years as consumers, campaigners, and regulators call for increased accountability to ensure that products are produced and consumed responsibly and sustainably. When we consider that currently just 1% of material in clothing is recycled into new products and that in the EU consumption of textiles has, on average, the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change, the need for urgent and whole systems change is indisputable. However, traceability and specifically the ability to track a product from raw materials to finished goods and beyond – is one of the main challenges that fashion brands face in increasing transparency across their supply chain.
To help address this issue, the EU has laid out a strategy dedicated to textile circularity in support of the Green Deal targets, highlighting the significance of Digital Product Passports (DPPs) as a crucial tool to help brands adhere to impending EU regulations. Avery Dennison’s atma.io is an Associate Member of the CIRPASS consortium in Europe, which is helping create standards-based DPP prototypes and an implementation blueprint, in line with industry and consumer needs. The whole purpose of the DPP legislation is to consider the entire life cycle of products, from production to end-of-life disposal, covering all processes relating to materials sourcing, production, supply chain, and post-purchase usage. Making this a reality requires a deep level of transparency from a brand’s suppliers – and their suppliers – as to exactly where constituent materials are sourced. To make this happen the level of product transparency required goes far beyond what is required today. While new regulations can sometimes appear as a burden or pressure to be met, they can also present us with enormous benefits and exciting business opportunities.
In fashion, the shift to new ownership models is being driven by a growing consumer desire for variety, sustainability, and affordability. Circular business models including rental and resale have the potential to take 23% of the global fashion market by 2030. Digitally connected clothing will enable entirely new business models for fashion brands of all sizes. A unique DPP, triggered by digital identification technology and powered by a connected product cloud platform like Avery Dennison’s atma.io, will give brands the ability to create ongoing value from their products by extending the connection with the consumer throughout the products lifecycle and providing the data required to manage re-commerce and recycling. DPPs will unlock identification and authentication of products making resale possible and enhancing brand protection. Simply put, DPPs will guarantee your consumers have the real thing.
There is a growing need for transparency and customer engagement in the fashion industry. Avery Dennison conducted research that told us that globally 43% of fashion shoppers agree that “transparency about a product’s journey to the consumer is important to me”. Fostering genuine connections and engagement with customers is essential for brands to cultivate loyalty, generate valuable insights, and drive long-term success and DPPs will help to create this level of enhanced brand storytelling.
Furthermore, DPPs will play a vital role in closing the circularity loop regarding recycling. Once you have a digital label on a garment, you can tell the consumer where and how they can get the item recycled, and it helps the recycler validate the materials and fiber content which will create more efficiency in the sorting and recycling process – ultimately reducing waste.
Swijin, a sustainable performance wear brand, has integrated Avery Dennison’s Digital Care Labels, powered by atma.io connected product cloud, into its SwimRunner collection. By scanning the QR code with a smartphone, and landing on a custom-built experience, consumers can learn about their garment’s history, its sustainability story, get guidance on garment care, and understand the best way to dispose of it after use. DPPs will not only provide consumers with the transparency they seek but also give them a range of post-use options unlocking the potential of a more circular economy.
As we look ahead, it’s clear to see why DPPs will become an integral part of apparel, footwear, and textiles very soon. The advantages are clear and will provide brands with a unique opportunity to offer new customer experiences and marketing innovations by enhancing product authenticity, traceability, and customer-brand interaction.
For further information, to download a free guide to Digital Product Passports, or to speak with our DPP experts for a deep dive session, visit here.