For the Digital ID, which the Fashion Taskforce developed with EON, a digital identification company, you scan a QR code on the label or an NFC embedded in the item. That also takes you to an app page, this one detailing the materials involved and the product’s authenticity — a useful tool for the secondhand market, where the sale of counterfeit goods remains a significant problem, and for recycling, since components like dyes and buttons are identified.
In the Provenance system, the information is accessed by clicking through a brand’s online shopping platform. “Say the shirt is made of organic cotton — you can click on ‘cotton,’ and see water usage, carbon reduction, worker impact,” said Jessi Baker, founder of Provenance. “You can see where the factory is on a map.” There are plans to embed the same information in QR codes on swing tags and labels.
That sounds fiddly, and like reading medicine-box inserts. What if you want to skip all that?
You may like Nisolo’s “Sustainability Facts” label. Patrick Woodyard, the chief executive of the brand, said the company spent three years and $500,000 developing the label, which appears in its shoe boxes and swaps vitamins and minerals for the product’s social and environmental impact — or what he calls “people and planet.”
The assessments are divided into 12 categories, including wages, health care, materials, and packaging. Each is listed as a percentage, so if everyone in the item’s supply chain is paid a living wage — as determined by the Global Living Wage Coalition — the score is 100 percent; if nine out of 10 factories provide maternity leave or health care, that score is 90 percent. (There will also be a QR code on the shoe bag and on accessory hang tags that customers can scan.)
You may not wholly understand each section’s metrics — parsing what a living wage is in a particular country is a bit like figuring out what trans fats are in Pop Tarts. Nisolo said its data comes from 31 sources, including the Higg Index, Textile Exchange and Good on You, as well as from its own research.
The label for the Everyday Chelsea Boot, one of Nisolo’s most popular styles, for example, tells you that the factories that make the boot are doing pretty well when it comes to health care and benefits, but can improve “packaging and distribution” (plans are to reduce packaging materials by 50 percent).