Will the future of fashion involve Blockchain? Pt. 1, Grey Market retailers

FASHION has its own, convoluted way of working its way into every profession and path of life; whether it be fundamentally important within the area of work or an afterthought outside of the industry — the person reading this articles cares about how they dress, just as everyone else does. 

Now you may be wondering, what has this got to do with Blockchain or e-currency; well let me explain. Statistics produced by GLOBALDATA suggest the second-hand clothing market will nearly double in value between 2019 and 2023 — this is a leap from $28 billion (yes, billion) to $51 billion accumulatively amongst shift stores, resale markets and all other accessible outlets.

Ethically sound retailers and brands are fashionable right now (pardon the pun), so that explains the potential boom in market value as well as death of highstreet or fast fashion. But, what about high-end shopfronts such as Balenciaga, Prada or Off-White — second-hand markets must start somewhere, the same clothes cannot be recycled until earth inevitably implodes and life as we know it ends. This is where the internet’s Grey-Market plays its part, the void between brand warehouses, shop-fronts and grey retailers. Again, it is clear that explanation is needed here.

What is the Grey-Market, you ask? The legal sales and stocking of legitimate product via means of illegitimate stockists.

This term is used to generally categorise venders who stock and sell product acquired from legitimate retailers whom over-ordered or stock certain product. A prime example of this process is Italian retailer ‘Italist’, who were selling Prada’s FW2019 collection with 30% off recommended retail price — this line-up included their popular ‘Frankestein’ tees and Sidone leather handbags, possibly the best-selling Prada product of that season. Issue-wise, the Italist’s problem lied in the fact that it’s not, and unsurprisingly never will be, an official stockist of Italy’s famous name — not the reduced prices.

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They are not authorised to sell anything related to this name, so under supervision of their in-house lawyers, Prada, sent ‘cease-and-desist’ contracts to the site’s office in an attempt to prevent further sales of their product. Unfortunately, these were discarded and Italist continued to sell-out at 30% below the price found on Prada’s own website.

Another example of the grey-market is Jomashop, an American web-store whom sell old-season or excess stock offloaded from authorised retailers at heavily discounted prices — they even have a section that allows a retail or independent to sell product directly into their hands. In buying from this website, all warranty from the original retailer and brand becomes void instead being replaced by the company’s offer to service any watch up to five years following purchase from their website, dependant on brand.

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It is very important not to get the grey retail market and black-market confused; whilst the grey-market hosts sales of legitimate product, the black-market is wholly based around selling fake and illegitimate items. Items purchased on the black-market can play host to all sorts of issues, highlighting user welfare or the possibility of scamming the buyer. Everything produced legitimately and for authorised retail has to pass a series of test and regulations before it hits the shelf, these ensure no negative impact can be caused to the user, wearer or those around them when used in the manner it was designed for. When buying from the black-market, the owner could be exposed to poisonous paints, faulty electrical and even death — so lets not confuse the two markets.

Revising each point made in this article, the internet’s grey-market encapsulates legitimate retailers selling legitimate stock in an illegitimate manner at heavily discount prices, after acquiring the stock from boutiques with a little too much to handle. In comparison, the black-market plays host to illegitimate retailers, selling illegitimate stock, illegitimately — in other words, fakes!

So, how can fashion-houses act by means to make sure their stock is being sold by the expected fronts, and how may these illegitimate stockists combat being traced? Your answer can be found within Block-Chain and RFID tagging.

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