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NEW YORK – Paper trails are no longer enough as brands seek transparent and traceable supply chains. This was one of the conclusions of a webinar Apparel Insider recently held in conjunction with molecular tagging specialists Applied DNA Sciences and thread manufacturing giant, American & Efird (A&E).

The webinar is a must-watch for brands and retailers interested in implementing true traceability solutions into their supply chains. As well as looking at the challenges faced by the industry, it provides delailed, practical guidance on how molecular tagging solutions can be used to provide full traceability for apparel products and textile fibres.

The full webinar can be viewed here: Apparel Insider Video 10 June 2021 – YouTube

The webinar asked how brands can ensure the textiles and garments they retail are really what they say they are, with a focus on the issue of counterfeiting, as well as digging down into the fibres products are made with.

Wayne Buchen, vice president of strategic sales at Applied DNA, pointed to the huge growth of the counterfeit goods market, which has now passed US$4.5 trillion globally. In the fashion space, the situation is getting worse due to the rapid growth in online sales in the pandemic. “Brands don’t have the bandwidth to be able to check every product that comes back,” he says.

Evidence shows some consumers are purchasing identical pairs of real and fake trainers, for instance, and returning the fake trainers as the real thing – receiving a full refund.

MeiLin Wan, vice president, textile sales Applied DNA Sciences, Inc, suggests that at the moment, the counterfeiters are winning, with existing solutions such as RFID tracking and blockchain only offering half an answer to this burgeoning issue.

“It comes down to physical traceability – you need to be able to tag, test and track a particular item,” she says. “The days of relying on a paper trail have run their course – that ship has sailed. If retailers don’t do anything their brands will be hollowed out, leading to reduced consumer trust and decreased market share.

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