What is Block-Chain technology?
The recent hype around the cryptocurrency Bitcoin gained a lot of global attention. Crypto currencies work on the block-chain technology, and this technology is being seen as the way of the future transactions. Block-chain is simply a digital ledger created for transactions. It was originally written for Bitcoin. This technology distributes transactional data transparently through a series of interconnected systems or computers.
How does this technology work?
Instead of relying on a third party controller, transactions in this technology are mediated by participants using a consensus protocol on ledger content (pre-agreed rules). The transaction integrity is maintained by using cryptographic hashes and digital signatures. The shared ledgers here are identical, based on the established consensus, which lowers the risk of fraudulent transactions. (See Fig.)
Why use Blockchain technology?
There are two big changes this technology promises to bring in the online transactions avenue.
Firstly, it lowers the risk of information theft or misuse, owing to its structure of the peer-to-peer network.
Secondly, in case of an error in a certain transaction, the remaining computers in the network can easily overrule the faulty one preventing the probability of fraudulent transactions considerably.
Unlike traditional technologies, where a central server manages or stores all the data, becoming highly vulnerable to security attacks, block-chain actually distributes the data using cryptography, which in turn secures sensitive information.
Hence, with block-chain, all the data is being stored on a series or a network of computers connected to each other, rather than on a single central server. So if one computer from the whole network is corrupted or attacked, a timestamp stored on another computer in the chain or network can counteract its effect.
Beyond security benefits, this technology also offers a more democratic and transparent, data distribution method across supply chains.
Can Blockchain revolutionize garment industry?
Lockchain has already laid its course for disrupting garment industry. A Transparent Company, founded by Neliana Fuenmayor, is already using this technology. They have developed a project where they track end-to-end supply chain of UK Alpaca, right from the farm to the finished product.
Recent hashtag revolutions like #whomademyclothes have shown millennial consumers are keen to know where their clothes are coming from. Moreover, every garment supply chain is highly complex tangled web of players. Transparency in this complex supply chain transactions and data management is a huge advantage that can truly profit the industry. This technology can ensure real-time product tracking across the garment supply chain, making them much more costefficient, along with building consumer trust on the brand. Currently, transparency in the garment industry is limited to the “Made in” labels used on the garment. The customers now need to know more about what they buy, than just one label indicating the story.
Blockchain will enable transparent supply chains in garment manufacturing, with accurate information for every supply chain level to use, which cannot be tampered with or altered to suit a player’s needs. It will offer full transparency and traceability to every piece of garment that sits on the shelf. It will also wipe out fake products and counterfeits from the market.
“Full transparency and traceability become a stamp of approval allowing consumers to make informed choices with no extra effort,” Martine Jarlgaard, Danish Fashion Designer. In long term, this technology can also make the garment industry sustainable. Fashion industry’s biggest global concern currently is of sustainability and growing fashion wastes. This technology is predicted to build a stronger bond between the consumer and the garments they purchase owing to the story every piece can tell. Also, it will force manufacturers and garment brands to chose sustainable options and reduce their environmental impacts to save themselves from customer ire. Embracing this technology by garment industry will still take time. In order to completely implement this technology, the industry needs to responsibly align all their practices to sustainable alternatives.