As part of a pioneering consortium facilitated by Fashion For Good, BESTSELLER is engaged in finding a solution to verify sustainable viscose fibres throughout the fashion supply chain.

The pilot is developed in collaboration with Kering (Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, etc.), and the project applies TextileGenesisTM’s innovative blockchain technology to trace viscose in the brands’ textile supply chains spanning eight countries to reflect the real-world complexities and various supply-chain scenarios, which will fully test the flexibility of the platform.

The Viscose Traceability Project’s ambitions are to explore, in detail, the necessary next-steps to making a traceability solution effective and scalable on a sector-wide, commercial level.

Blockchain as verification

With a goal of increasing the use of more sustainable materials year-on-year, BESTSELLER’s Fashion FWD strategy includes a target of sourcing 100 percent of man-made cellulosic (MMC) fibres responsibly in line with industry best practice, such as the Forest Stewardship Counsil (FSC). In order to reach the target, increased traceability in the supply chain is pivotal.

“Our use of more sustainable materials is increasing intensely in BESTSELLER and we want to guarantee the integrity of raw material sources. By using blockchain technology, we can ensure increased transparency where we verify that the sustainable fibres are used throughout the supply chain from fibre manufacturer to end product,” says Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, Sustainable Materials & Innovation Manager in BESTSELLER.

The project falls under BESTSELLER’s Fashion FWD Lab, which focuses on new low-impact circular materials and circular business models, as well as innovative production technologies. As BESTSELLER’s experimental sustainability hub, Fashion FWD Lab acts – most of all – as a catalyst for collaborations consisting of workshops, case studies and pilot projects to accelerate sustainable change. 

Two sides of the same coin

Blockchain has emerged as a promising tool for supply chain transparency and traceability. Having already demonstrated the technological feasibility of the TextileGenesisTM platform and its ability to integrate chain of custody certification in previous pilots, this project will focus on demonstrating the feasibility of global application of the solution across the viscose supply chain.

“Traceability in the textile value chain is challenging due to high industry fragmentation and global supply chains. Sourcing of sustainable fashion products increasingly requires full supply chain traceability to ensure integrity of sustainability claims. We see sustainability and traceability as two sides of the same coin and our purpose is to accelerate the realisation of 100 percent sustainable fibres pledges by providing radical transparency in the textile value chain,” says Amit Gautam, CEO and Founder, TextileGenesisTM.

Success will be measured against the flexibility of the solution – being able to operate across diverse supply chains; the interoperability of the solution – collecting data from multiple platforms into a single system; and scalability – global implementation across multiple brands, fibre producers and supply chains.

Eight garment styles are traced for the pilot, with fibres sourced from three leading sustainable viscose producers, Lenzing, ENKA and Tangshan Sanyou, which were all selected due to their ‘Green Shirt’ ranking on the Canopy Hot Button Report and reputation as leaders in the sustainability field. The nine-month project will be completed in late 2021, followed by an aggregated report detailing the key findings and best practices that will be shared publicly.

The scope of the Viscose Traceability Project focuses on tracing viscose fibres from production to retail. Viscose is used to produce between 8-10 billion garments annually and is expected to double by 2025. With an estimated 30 percent of viscose sourced from endangered forests, ensuring the fibres originate from renewable sources will secure its potential as one of the sustainable fibres of the future. As such, transparency in fashion supply chains and scalable traceability solutions for viscose fibre have become a top priority for the industry. The project leverages the impactful work of the CanopyStyle initiative to eliminate ancient and endangered forest fibre from viscose production and to bolster adoption of forest certification standards such as FSC, to address traceability in the earlier parts of the supply chain (i.e. from forest to viscose fibre production). Canopy has joined the project as an advisor to support the screening and selection of viscose producers, as well as to provide guidance towards scaling the traceability efforts post-pilot.