Need to Know
- Burberry Digital and interns from IBM’s Extreme Blue program have developed a tracing system to give consumers greater insights into product sustainability.
- The system, called Voyage, uses IBM’s Public Cloud and Blockchain platform to collect key data and display details such as product materials and manufacturing processes.
- Voyage is designed to be used within Burberry’s app.
- The IBM Extreme Blue internship program’s 2020 theme was “sustainability in fashion.”
Luxury fashion brand Burberry has developed a new tool, Voyage, that will give consumers greater insight into the sustainability of its clothing and other products.
Voyage, which was developed by Burberry Digital and IBM’s internship program, Extreme Blue, is designed to make products more traceable and offer greater visibility over a product’s life cycle. The prototype tracking system uses IBM’s Public Cloud and Blockchain platform to identify products by scanning an NFC (near field communication) tag, or by using a manually inputted garment tag number. The system then displays details such as the materials that are used to create the garment and the manufacturing processes that were involved in the garment’s creation.
“The passion and creativity that IBM’s Extreme Blue interns showed in developing a prototype solution for a longstanding industry challenge was exceptional,” Mark McClennon, Burberry’s chief information officer, said of Voyage.
This year’s IBM Extreme Blue internship theme was “sustainability in fashion”, which comes at a time when consumers are more tuned-in to the potential ecologically damaging effects of the products they purchase and use. IMB intern Tara Mulcahy-Murray said that, in developing Voyage, the goal was to “give consumers more information about each product before it reaches the store, so they can make more informed purchasing decisions.”
Burberry has recently made ambitious commitments to sustainability within its supply chain. In April of this year, the brand announced plans to affix pistachio-colored labels to Burberry products that outline the item’s sustainable elements, and how it has met certain “positive attributes” criteria, such as the number of recycled materials used to create the product, how it adheres to carbon emissions standards, and the living wages of the workers used to create the product. Burberry currently aims to have all of its products display more than one “positive attribute” by 2021.
The IBM-Burberry sustainability initiative comes as more brands are recognizing that transparency is a priority among consumers, and are launching initiatives to allow greater insight into their sourcing and manufacturing processes. Traceability has therefore become popular: in August, Starbucks unveiled a new feature in its app that allowed customers to trace their cup of coffee “from bean to cup”, while in June, Google announced a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund that would trace textile production on a new platform. Stella McCartney has since become the first brand to test that platform.
Voyage, which is currently in the prototype phase, is designed for use on Burberry’s app and allows users to set their own sustainability priorities and preferences. No launch date for the feature has been announced.