Fashion Blockchain Startups — A Survey of Players In The Field, Q1 2018

Charles Beckwith
12 min readMar 27, 2018

In the world of computer hackers, the leading publication of the last several years is known as PoC||GTFO, which is an abbreviation of the full title, The International Journal of Proof-of-Concept or Get The F — Out. When analyzing blockchain startups, particularly the ones proposing to raise operating capital through the sale of digital tokens, this is probably the best policy to follow.

In a recent article on Bitcoin.com titled “46% of Last Year’s ICOs Have Failed Already,” cryptocurrency analyst Kai Sedgwick writes, “a digital graveyard, complete with metaphorical tumbleweed, characterizes the crop of 2017 that decided to take the money and run. Many raised zero; some raised a couple of thousand dollars; and a handful raised over $10 million. In each case, the end result was the same though: no MVP, no alpha release, and no contribution to the decentralized web for the betterment of humanity.” So, it is in this context which we must analyze the plans of several groups attempting to sell blockchain technology services to the fashion industry.

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” — William Gibson

The Jarlgaard Experiment

In May of last year, London-based designer Martine Jarlgaard presented garments made from organic British alpaca at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. The garments were accompanied by tags bearing a printed QR code, which could be scanned with a mobile phone to pull up a full history of the supply chain behind each garment, even including names and profile photos of the specific alpacas whose coats were sheared, batched, and spun to make each individual sweater. There is a video about at least part of the process, as well as a case study available. Provenance, the company which enabled the supply chain tracking with their transparency platform, frames this as “the first garment ever tracked with blockchain technology.” Jarlgaard was supported in doing this through collaboration with London College of Fashion’s Fashion Innovation Agency, Neliana Fuenmayor’s A Transparent Company consultancy, Provenance, and a host of other supporting individuals and organizations. Proof of concept to be sure, but really this has not yet been proven in terms of scalability. Jarlgaard’s trial was an academic exercise, and Provenance seems to be focused more on the food space than fashion. Many…

--

--

Charles Beckwith

Forward-thinking creative. Interests include Tech, Biz, Startups, Art, Recipes, Sci-Fi, Writing, Screenwriting, Woodworking, 2600.