High street garment supplier Dewhirst has formed a joint venture with cyber security firm VST Enterprises to roll out scannable smart code technology in clothing, footwear and accessories.
The technology can be used to provide shoppers with more information about products when they’re in store or at home, as well as making anti-counterfeiting and traceability much easier.
The two firms established a joint venture called VApparel at the start of this year and are now introducing the technology to Dewhirst’s customers for development. It can eventually be deployed by any fashion manufacturer or retailer.
The technology is currently being used to protect against fraud in many sectors, from document verification to unattended car park payment systems, but this is its first application in the fashion and textile industries.
Louis-James Davis, chief executive of Manchester-based VST Enterprises, explained that that process uses a VCode, which is a fully-washable symbol that is 225 microns thick and can be printed, stitched or etched onto garments, footwear or accessories. Unlike QR codes, the VCode only links to VST’s database servers and its own proprietary smart phone app, which means it is more secure than other systems.
Dewhirst, which supplies high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer and various Premier League football clubs, is about to enter a development phase with some of its main customers to commercialise the technology. The UK-based company makes around 50 million garments a year at facilities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the UK and Vietnam.
Chief executive Anthony Wood told Drapers: “Customers can scan the garment and know it is genuine but they can also get a lot more information on their phones. For example with a football shirt, they can get player interviews or could be pinged more sales info and offers. So it is that, combined with the anti-counterfeiting option, that really makes this technology different.
“We’ll start with our main customers but this technology can be used for any retailer – we can put VCode onto any finished items.”
Wood said the joint venture is interesting because it unites an old but forward-thinking business (Dewhirst was founded in 1880) with a new technology business, both based in the North of England. “This is only the beginning of what we could do,” he added.