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Houdini Recruits YKK and EON for High-Tech Circular Parka

Swedish sportswear brand Houdini is raising the bar for product circularity, digitizing its One Parka launching in August and committing to digitizing and connecting all its garments to the cloud by 2023.

This part of Houdini’s pledge to transition its entire ecosystem to 100 percent circular by 2030. Made possible by a new partnership between EON and YKK, Houdini’s digitized One Parka is the first product to feature YKK’s new Touchlink NFC zipper pull and the first parka to be connected end-to-end by the EON Product Cloud.

Creating digital profiles for each of its products so that they can be connected, managed and stewarded across lifecycles through the EON Product Cloud helps to unlock capacities throughout its ecosystem, Houdini said. Connected garments lower the threshold to circular business models such as resale, rental, subscription and recycling. It also enables Houdini to digitize and reinforce its relational business model, distancing further from the transactional customer relationships that have long defined retail.

Turning the product into a communications channel, connected products open a direct and continuous connection between brand and customers, the company said. By tapping their mobile phones against YKK’s NFC-enabled zipper pull on their Houdini One Parka, customers will instantly connect to Houdini and access curated use and care guides, service and support, as well as opportunities to explore and co-create circular ways of life.

Houdini's digitized One Parka is the first parka to feature YKK’s new Touchlink NFC zipper pull and be connected by the EON Product Cloud.
Houdini’s One Parka Courtesy

“Digitizing our circular ecosystem, we are replacing silos with an interconnected system and transactions with relations–dismantling two of the biggest barriers for the circular transition,” Jesper Danielsson, Houdini’s head of product, said. “Just as our responsibility as a brand doesn’t end when we sell a product, the relationship with Houdini doesn’t end there. It continues through use, care, reuse, and next life. Connecting our products, we aim to deliver a richer customer experience and foster long term relationships with products, community and the planet.”

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Houdini said its initiative demonstrates the crucial role of connected products in solving fashion’s biggest barriers to circular business model transformation, creating a measurable platform for increases in customer lifetime value, and in revenue generated per item through digitization. Houdini, EON and YKK are committing to sharing the processes and toolkit with the apparel industry in the hopes of encouraging more brands to digitize products and create scalable systems for circular commerce.

“Continuity of commerce is the mission-critical step to maintaining customer relationships and unlocking circular fashion,” Natasha Franck, founder and CEO of EON, said. “Together, EON, YKK and Houdini are doing just that–creating a whole new universe of customer engagement that can continue far beyond the initial use of a garment to unlock the full potential of each product and customer relationship. The opportunities are exponential and we’re only just scratching the surface.”

Without a way to connect to products across their lifecycle, brands have historically lost control of their products and connectivity with their customers after initial sale. The partnership between EON and YKK solves these challenges across hardware and software.

EON is the first end-to-end platform ecosystem in fashion retail and YKK introduces one of the first commercially viable solutions for durable and washable embedded physical solutions for digital enablement of connected apparel with the TouchLink zipper pull.

“One of the advantages of YKK’s TouchLink technology is that it establishes a branded touch-point on the product, where the customer knows they can connect directly with the brand throughout the product’s entire lifecycle,” Terry Tsukumo, vice president of YKK’s global marketing group, said. “The NFC chip is molded into the zipper puller, which completely encases it, making it highly resistant to moisture and breakage and ensuring permanence and durability crucial for guiding the garment through a growing circular ecosystem.”