Call it CSI Cotton: Kering, the luxury juggernaut that owns Balenciaga, Gucci and Saint Laurent, has partnered with Italy’s Albini Group to create a 100 percent traceable organic-cotton textile based on forensic science and statistical analysis.
Each fabric product, composed of cotton grown by Supima, then dyed and woven by Albini Group, is identifiable through a unique chemical signature that links a fiber back to the field where it was farmed, Kering explained.
The ID process is supposedly fake-proof: The companies tapped Oritain, a traceability firm with offices in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to leverage natural identifiers in the fiber, picked up during the growing process, to create a “fingerprint” that cannot be “altered, copied or adulterated,” according to Kering.
The cotton can be verified at any point in its journey to ensure that the raw material, fabric and final product line up with the original fingerprint. Because only an exact match shows that the fiber is authentic, the process will help ensure integrity in the supply chain, said Cecilia Takayama, director of the Materials Innovation Lab at Kering.
The innovation, according to Takayama, nudges Kering closer to its 2025 goal of 100 percent traceability in its overall supply chains.
Rupert Hodges, executive director of Oritain’s U.K. office, concurred. “Traceability has been a buzzword in fashion for some time, but there are still challenges in the industry,” he said. “Now through this partnership we can support Kering, Supima and Albini Group to further enable sustainable, responsible practices in their cotton supply chains.”
Marc Lewkowitz, president of Supima, hailed the collaboration as a “new milestone” in the organization’s history, noting that “just like you and I have unique fingerprints, so does cotton.”
“We are proud to be the ‘orchestra conductors’ of this revolutionary project and to have brought it on a global scale,” added Stefano Albini, president of Albini Group, which operates the Albini 1876, Thomas Mason, David & John Anderson and Albiate 1830 brands. “We have chosen to collaborate with the most authoritative scientific partner to analyze one of the most beautiful raw materials in the world and we are happy that our vision is shared by such a prestigious and forward-thinking luxury group.”