BLOCKCHAIN HAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL WHEN IT COMES TO THE FUTURE OF FASHION
Marjorie Hernandez, what is the future of fashion in a virtualised world?
Marjorie Hernandez is the brand-expert behind LUKSO, the blockchain revolutionising the fashion and lifestlye industries. Blockchain is often associated with male-dominated tech firms and may seem irrelevant when it comes to the fashion and luxury industries. Hernandez is out to change this perception. She believes that the future of fashion is intimately tied to Blockchain. Her company is currently harnessing the potential of this emerging technology to challenge some of the dominant trends in fashion today and perhaps even change future consumer behavior. We spoke to the forward-thinking innovator and founder of LUKSO about the role of fashion in our digital future, and perhaps even more fundamentally…what on earth is the blockchain?
INTERVIEW Tell me about your background and how you came up with the idea of a fashion blockchain?
MARJORIE HERNANDEZ I studied architecture, design and art and for most of my career I worked with artists, agencies and corporations doing strategy and brand experience. Most recently, though, I worked for an innovation lab in one of the Big Four (accounting firms). This was right around the time when many corporations started being interested in the blockchain.
I When was this?
MH Around 2015. My partner and I initially got into blockchain in 2013, which was quite early for this new technology. It was a really hot topic in the innovation lab. At one point my boss pointed out that all the clients were asking about the blockchain, but nobody really knew much about it…so I took it on. At first, it was mainly just a hobby for me, but it was so exciting to be in on it at the beginning. I soon recognized that the technology had the potential to revolutionize so many industries.
At that point (and to a great extent, still today), the blockchain operated in a highly technical, male-dominated environment, so I wasn’t sure when the technology would go mainstream. As soon as I saw the appeal spreading, I decided to put my knowledge and network to work, and took a leap. My personal passion has always been in design and lifestyle topics. These are massive industries that have a lot of the same problems as the pharmaceutical and automotive industries: transparency, origin and counterfeits. I knew that the blockchain had the potential to solve all of these issues. So, I compiled a business plan, shared it with my friends and with a bit of help, got a team together to tackle it head on. In 2017, my team and I started by asking the fundamental question: what is the future of an industry that is based on optics and physical experiences and objects, in a virtual and digital world. This remains the underlying question in everything we do. Of course, we are looking to solve issues like counterfeiting and authenticity, but life can’t just be about solving problems. At LUKSO we are always looking ahead, developing digital fashion for the future. We are essentially a blockchain platform tailor-made for the fashion and lifestyle industries.
“What is the future of an industry that is based on optic, physical experiences and objects in a world that is becoming virtualised and digitalised?”
I Blockchain technology sounds quite complex, could you help us understand what it is?
MH We’re all familiar with peer-to-peer networks, like Bittorrent or Napster, for instance. These were peer-to-peer networks sharing (laughs) illegal content, but they fulfilled a need we had for sharing content without the presence of a central entity. This is why that technology spread so quickly, right? Blockchain is basically like a peer-to-peer network based on cryptography. It solves a simple issue referred to as the “double spending problem”. Essentially the issue is this…when I send something digitally I can always send more copies. But what if I want to conduct a transaction with value in a digital environment? How does one create digital uniqueness? Blockchain enables this, and this is really the true innovation behind bitcoin. Suddenly, we can create digital scarcity and start attaching value to things. It’s a technological revolution, as well as a philosophical inquiry, right?
I Blockchain adds value by creating scarcity and gives the ability to track the original product?
MH Exactly. The blockchain name is quite literal…it is a block of chains and if broken, it no longer works. It is a true decentralized system. Whatever happens in the blockchain is immutable, it can’t be changed. It creates a security that makes it great for business transactions, giving us the ability to have faith in the blockchain without relying on trust in each other. This is why it’s so powerful. It’s the next step in the story of humanity, if you think about it. Where should we put our trust? First, it was God, then each other, then institutions, and now we’re moving toward the next paradigm: putting our trust in technology.
“This is a technological revolution, but it’s also a philosophical question.”
I It’s a chain of trust?
I You will soon be launching the demo of your app?
MH Yes. For now the application is prediagnostic. The idea is that any brand can use it, we are just demonstrating what can actually be done with the technology. We will be showing it to business partners and investors, but it will also be open source…anyone can use it on the website.
I What are the different products that will be available in the app?
MH First, is what we call “digital twin”, which creates a digital copy of a real, physical item. We do this by putting a chip into handbags or sneakers, for example, and creating a digital identity. The amazing thing about the blockchain is that identities can transact with each other. Just like the handbag or sneakers, you, and I and the company that made the handbag also have an identity. So, when we create a digital twin of a handbag, the manufacturer can send digital information to the handbag and to the owner of that bag.
Next, we have the “digital fashion” offer, where we create collectible pieces worn only in digital spaces.
I Like instagram
MH Yes, like instagram. It’s essentially like a filter. The clothes are mapped on your body, you take a picture, and then share. So there will be both digital and physical collectibles.
I Beside fashion, which other industries are particularly revolutionary in terms of the blockchain?
MH The automotive industry is very future-focused, mostly on autonomous driving. We were recently involved in a very exciting project in which we asked, “what can your autonomous car do for you when you are not using it for transportation?” For example, once your car has dropped you at the office, then what? Perhaps it could transport other people with the use of a wallet and blockchain identity. This would enable the car to conduct transactions like accepting payment, or recharging itself when it’s run out of battery.
I So while I’m working, my car could get gas on it’s own? That’s a dream.
MH (Laughs) This technology is not far away. The economy of things, or machine-to-machine economy is coming soon.
I So autonomy is an important aspect of blockchain in all sectors?
MH Absolutely. And it’s already happening…objects are becoming smarter. If you have a valuable item, why shouldn’t you have a way to track its value. If you own a Birkin bag, you surely want to have the data to go along with it. That will give you much more security than relying on the piece of paper you received when you bought the bag.
I So what comes after this current release? What’s the next dream project you want to tackle?
MH That’s a really great question. I truly believe digital fashion is going to really take off. It is a viable alternative to all the fast fashion that we’re consuming at a clearly unsustainable rate. Digital fashion has very little impact on the planet and I would really love to see consumers really adapt and change their behavior. Maybe in the future we will begin to dress more minimally and functionally, using virtual outlets for self-expression. I would be very interested in working on this aspect in the future. Of course, in the shorter term, I would love to collaborate with an amazing brand, like Chanel or Virgil Abloh.
I I could see Virgil Abloh working on a ‘digital closet’ concept. Is that what you would call it?
MH At the moment we call it digital fashion, but who knows what name it will have in the future as we move forward and gain a better understanding of what it is. Blockchain has so much potential when it comes to the future of fashion.
To find out more about digital fashion, head to lukso.network
Words SARAH OSEI
Photography EIRIKUR MORTAGNE