OBSERVATIONS

The upside of Digital Product Passports

KONRAD OLSSON
Observations from a panel on the need for new technologies in the fashion industry.
December 12, 2023
Interviewed by Linda Pimmeshofer at Retail Talks at Epicenter Store.

A positive case for DPP

Last week I was invited to speak at an event by Linda Pimmeshofer, a tech and retail specialist who like myself has become obsessed with Digital Product Passports, and their possibility of transforming the fashion industry. DPP was subsequently the topic of Retail Tech Talks, which Linda was hosting together with Epicenter Store, a kind of retail workshop in the heart of Stockholm. 

I was the opening speaker, and thus given the difficult task of explaining the macro problem that the fashion industry is facing. We’ve been over it several times in this column, in our content feed, and in our conference stages. But it bears repeating: we have an industry producing some 100 billion garments per year, with an average overproduction of roughly 30%. We are also talking about a surprisingly conservative industry, slow to adapt to new technologies, and hostile to sharing data and general knowledge of its practices. 

Not the best circumstances to induce the kind of rapid transformation that the European Union is demanding in the next few years. 

What followed was an impressive lineup of speakers. No one can provide a more insightful and knowledgeable perspective on the EU developments than Staffan Olsson from GS1 Sweden (listen to him on our podcast here). Helena Waker, CEO of Swedish Fashion District and a partner to Scandinavian MIND testified to the worries and questions that the fashion brands have regarding the upcoming need for compliance. Martin Hallander, CEO of second-hand platform Arkivet, made the case for discovery and customer experience in the resell sector. Malva Carlsson from Houdini Sportswear testified on developing their own DPP pilot projects.

Helena Waker, Malva Carlsson, Natasha Franck, Staffan Olsson, and me.

But the headliner was no doubt Natasha Franck, the impressive and visionary founder of EON, a US-based traceability company that has spent the past seven years developing technologies that are now in high demand. Natasha is working with luxury brands like Balenciaga and Coach on transparency projects, and with the upcoming EU requirement, she seems ready to take on the wider European fashion industry. 

What struck me by Natasha’s vision was how upbeat she was. It was less about the doomy and gloomy need for compliance and more about the many commercial and environmental opportunities that transparency will bring for fashion brands. Only after we create the digital version of our products can we extend their value and build new services on top of them. Naturally, she would like her solution to be the platform – which she defines as the “CRM for products” – for this value shift.

It was a lengthy and inspiring session, and despite the challenge of sitting in the limelight for 1,5 hours, I was happy the see such and engaging crowd taking in the conversation. It shows that the topic of transforming the industry is growing and that people are yearning for insights and inspiration on how to move forward. Going into 2024, I commit to continuing the mission of spreading knowledge 

I’ve already booked Natasha as a guest on an upcoming podcast. 

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