When Technology Meets Style: The Advent of QR Codes in Fashion Labels

 The QR code (Quick Response Code), created in 1994 by Denso Wave,  is a type of barcode that can store all sorts of product information. It is recognisable through its appearance of square images made up of black modules on a white background. An advanced one would have images or brand logos on them. QR Codes – paired a few other technologies are adding more value to various industries including the fashion scene. However, Malaysia has not yet fully tap the potential of QR codes and its counterparts.

Let’s dive right into some case studies of 3 international designer brands who have helped the fashion industry rethink its possibilities.

(1) 1017 ALYX 9SM

Logo of 1017 ALYX 9SM

Say goodbye to the conventional way of fashion retail and supply chain.  1017 ALYX 9SM  – a prominent fashion label based in Italy by Matthew William – is coming up with a technological collaboration with Germany’s IOT Foundation, Avery Dennison Corporation (NYSE: AVY) and EVRYTHNG. With “Track to the Rack” as their slogan, the idea of tracking a purchased item arises from customers’ growing concern over ethically produced fashion garments. The novel concept is said to increase sustainability, authenticity, and transparency in the fashion industry.

Here is how it works:

Using a dedicated mobile app, consumers can scan the QR code attached to the garment’s material to get access to information such as its origin, the raw material used, the manufacturing date, production batch, and other small details. In other words, consumers have tracking and monitoring access to the whole clothing’s supply chain process ensuring credibility and trust. This is possible through the combination of blockchain, Internet of things (IoT) and distributed ledger technology (DLT).  If the pilot test runs well, ALYX might be “one of the first public proofs-of-concept of the platform”.

(2) Mayamiko

Founded in 2013 by Paola Masper, Mayamiko is famous for its ethical and fun printed fashion designs. Upon browsing the brand’s website, Mayamiko has clearly set a high benchmark for the label “ethical fashion”. This British brand believes in giving back to Mother Earth without compromising the design, quality, inquisitiveness, and value of their pieces. Following close the Ethical Trade Initiative’s principles (ETI), Mayamiko adheres to Zero Waste policy from design to packaging, locally sourcing materials or using fabrics that are organically certified or upcycled from consumer waste. This brand is also an advocate of fair trade and social enterprise as they are working with a women’s trust in Malawi all crafted in their solar-powered workshop in Malawi.

No, it does not end there. Upon ordering items online, customers are given the choice to plant a tree with One Tree Plante, a non-profit organisation. This amazing brand also produces Positive Pads – from waste material! – for the female Malawi community and refugee camps.

The latest addition to these charades of goods is the incorporation of identification and inventory technology in their line. Just last April, Mayamiko has invested in putting QR codes in their clothing labels and it’s not generic ones.  The statement “I made your dress” prompts buyers to scan the QR codes – each unique to each item – to know more about the lives of women who made the finished product possible. Each piece is more than just the fabric, cloth and thread. Rather, each one has their own story to tell and wearers will experience a special bond with their clothes.

Mayamiko’s QR Code

Mayamiko’s poignant way of ensuring each piece has its own tale is very telling and promising, only adding to the many ways on how ethical they are. The founder also plans to incorporate more links to wearers and makers by linking them together so they would have the opportunity to talk to the makers and say thank you. Paola Masker keeps honesty and integrity in her passion. She mentions how she would fail as a designer if in 5 years time she could not answer when asked about who designed her products.

(3) H&M

Who doesn’t know H&M, right?

Spreading their wings since the year 1947, H&M is a multinational clothing company that has over 4,500 retail stores in 62 countries. This fast-fashion retail brand has recently deployed a few interactive innovations to better enhance their customer engagement. H&M’s retail boutique in Times Square, New York has launched a digital signage and an interactive voice mirror which allows the magazines to take selfies and download their own virtual fashion magazine by using a QR Code. Simple yet effective, H&M believes technology is crucial for customer engagement but deployment must also contain the heart and soul of the brand’s identity.

According to H&M United States’ Business Development, Alex Bilbao, H&M is invested in testing and creating numerous technological breakthroughs so that their customers’ omnichannel experiences would be elevated. This is vital for H&M’s branding and customer loyalty. Their dedication is paying off as an “average of 150 interactions per day and 85 percent of QR downloads” are observed based on the interactive voice mirror.

Source: https://fashnerd.com/2018/06/hm-smartmirror-retail-technology-fashion/

Other than that, H&M is also catching up on the tech-savvy boat as its new online global platform has just been upgraded. Some of the notable features include image search, a VR app that allows shoppers to try on clothes virtually, a voice app features which allows shopping solely via voice notes, 3D technology, and QR codes to scan a garment that is linked to its details online.

In light of the three mentioned brands above, QR codes are adding values to brands by offering engaging multimedia content or services via a device that people carry with them all the time (mobile smartphones). Brands can now create clothing that is born digital and connect with their customers directly via a QR code on the label while providing full transparency and provenance for the apparel items they purchase and wear. Moreover, embedded QR codes use only a fraction of the advertising inventory space, allowing brands to pack more information into a smaller space and gain better value for their advertising initiatives.

Should Malaysian fashion designers follow suit or have you heard of any Malaysian industry players making progress in this space? Feel free to drop us your comments and follow us on our social media for more updates.

Nadhira Hizwani

Nadhira

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