Blockchain could be used to make every SKU produced by every brand accessible to any retailer, editor or consumer, feeding new digital tools that would massively democratise the curation of fashion, argues Charles Beckwith.
Fashion has moved much faster in the last few years to adopt newer technologies in ways it firmly resisted for a long time. Whether that is because of influence from Silicon Valley, people who “didn’t get it” exiting the businesses, or perhaps just out of desperation. In any case, things are now moving forward more rapidly on many fronts, but one technology we haven’t really seen employed by fashion companies yet is the blockchain.
Blockchains are the technology behind digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and while they involve some rather complicated mathematics and cryptography under the hood, in a usability sense they are just digital ledgers that publicly show a record of transactions having happened.
How does this play into fashion? Well, these blockchains don’t necessarily have to only track financial transactions; they could also be used to securely distribute other information, like where databases of SKUs and other product information, let’s call it complex metadata, might be stored. Blockchains are essentially just indexes of standardised information. In a very simple sense, blockchains are community-generated maps.