“We are such a closed, centralized system. Being open and transparent is the only way forward,” says designer Martine Jarlgaard with regards to applying blockchain to the fashion industry, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
In 2017, Jarlgaard piloted a blockchain system hoping to address the level of transparency that she believes is missing in the fashion industry. Today, she continues on a mission to push an open supply chain that not only enables consumers to make more informed decisions, but allows those in the chain to be held accountable, and receive the exposure they deserve. The overarching result, she hopes, is that brands will start acting more responsibly.
From her perspective, systemic change is needed in this regard. “The fashion industry as it stands today is ancient, and I’m struggling to understand why it hasn’t realized that and why it’s not using this incredible opportunity to stand in and really show vision, and to see what the future is.”
Since the inception of her namesake fashion label, Jarlgaard has been investigating ways to extend the value of a physical product through tools that facilitate transparency and sustainability. The blockchain project, for example, registered and traced each step of the journey of a garment via an app from London-based startup, Provenance, which customers could access by scanning a QR code found on the label. This was one of the very first examples of fashion applied to such a digital ledger.
Jarlgaard is passionate about decelerating the damage that people and the industry have already done to the planet, and deploying technology is one way she is striding towards that goal. She’s also exploring mixed reality, the role of art, and what the textiles lab of the future looks like, as further crucial fields.
In this conversation with Rachel Arthur, she emphasizes the huge responsibility that sits on the industry’s shoulders to start driving sustainability forward, how brands need to redefine the value of a product to change the way consumers shop, and why she believes innovation is what will enable a radical difference for good.