To imagine a new business model for fashion that’s circular, sustainable, and meets the needs of today’s digitally-minded customers is well and good. But to actually achieve this model for established brands, retailers, and an industry at large is an entirely different matter.
Enter Eon, a New York City tech startup that’s building a digital system for fashion and retail companies to connect with their customers—through Connected Products. Eon aims to give each and every garment in the world a digital identity, or a “digital twin.”
Eon’s leading IoT platform powered by Azure generates this digital identity for each garment, enabling brands to build long-lasting relationships with customers through data and insights on new consumer demands. It also gives them the systems they need to adopt new business models and offerings, like rental, resale, digital wardrobe apps, peer-to-peer exchanges, styling services, reuse, and recycling.
To digitize products on a large scale, Eon is partnering with brands, retailers, and stakeholders across the fashion industry. Their goal is to build a Connected Products Economy, which aims to solve the “take, make, waste” model. According to Eon, without a digital identification system, products are essentially “lost” once they’re sold—it’s nearly impossible to track and reclaim those garments, which ultimately leads to both environmental and economic waste. But the Internet of Things (IoT) provides a way to connect the physical and digital worlds, creating the infrastructure that brands and retailers need to track and monetize the lifecycle and value of their products.
”Historically, the relationship between a brand, their customer, and the product has ended the moment the product is sold. Eon’s platform enables brands to build an ongoing relationship with the customer, aligning business and sustainability in ways that were never before possible.”
- Natasha Franck, Founder and CEO, Eon
Founder and CEO Natasha Franck wants Eon to help brands harness this intelligence and turn it into more sustainable business models that make better use of resources. Fashion’s current model is decades old. It separates manufacturing, supply chain, and retail into entirely different streams with little information sharing between them, leading to inefficiencies and a lack of transparency.
Aside from introducing a platform for Connected Products, Eon has introduced a language for these Connected Products to speak. It’s called the CircularID™ Protocol, the global language for the digital identification of products in the circular economy. Annie Gullingsrud, Chief Strategy Officer of Eon, says “This shared language makes it possible for the garment to communicate to the brand, the customer, the reseller, and the recycler so we can ensure those products and materials are optimized and never lost or wasted again.”
How does that work, exactly? When Eon creates a Connected Product, each garment receives its own Digital Birth Certificate and Digital Passport. This embeds data into the garment and records information about how it moves through the world. More specifically, there’s a printed or embedded tag within each garment—such as a QR Code, RFID, NFC, or Bluetooth LE—that enables data to be associated with the item and captured across its lifecycle.
For this to happen, Eon leverages Microsoft Cognitive Services to collect, sort, and store each garment’s unique set of data. Azure Cloud then enables Eon to scale this process with confidence and security.
”As you can imagine, we capture all events for every item, so that’s a lot of data. And it not only has to be secure, but also correct.”
- Yuan Ma, Director of Engineering at Eon
Eon is now partnering with brands, providing them the platform to digitize their operations, launch Connected Products, and offer interactive features and intelligent products to their customers. Armed with the business intelligence gathered from Eon’s platform, brands can build more meaningful relationships with their customers, offering exclusive content, garment care and styling tips, and other personalized experiences.
A Connected Product can communicate valuable information—like where it was made and who made it—directly on the product. This is especially important for brands to consider, with 78% of consumers saying they find company transparency crucial, according to Label Insight’s Transparency ROI survey.
Gabriela Hearst, a sustainability-minded label, has been the first designer to introduce commercial products with Eon. The garments in her Spring/Summer 2020 collection each have a digital identity within Eon’s Circular ID Protocol™.
Eon believes that Connected Products across the fashion industry can empower businesses, the economy, our society, and the environment to thrive—and ultimately, provide a beacon to guide other industries to do the same.