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Up Close: In Conversation with Applied DNA Sciences’s MeiLin Wan

Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, MeiLin Wan, vice president, textile sales at Applied DNA Sciences, discusses how science can help fashion supply chains be more transparent.

MeiLin Wan
MeiLin Wan, vice president, textile sales at Applied DNA Sciences Courtesy

Name: MeiLin Wan

Title: vice president, textile sales

Company: Applied DNA Sciences

Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain?

We don’t believe there is any one industry that has the best handle on supply chains. Working in closed loop supply chains for the past six years, we know that partners that have tight controls, coupled with systematic authentication and testing of fiber, yarn and fabrics, are far ahead of others that have little to no control of their raw materials. It comes down to having good systems, with track-and-trace on the physical product itself.

What can apparel learn?

If you “claim it,” you “own it.” Transaction-based systems—including blockchain—do not preserve the integrity of the actual material itself, and therefore, you cannot know with certainty if the product stays pure and undiluted in the finished product. The most important learning is that you have to protect the raw materials and ensure they do not get adulterated or mixed with materials that are not meant to be there.

Do you consider yourself a typical consumer? 

From a “macro” perspective, I do consider myself a typical consumer in the sense that the products I buy are generally in the same categories as what most other consumers buy. We all need, food, clothes, shoes, shampoo, etc. From a “micro” perspective, what I choose to buy is probably atypical as I question where the product comes from, who made it, and which brands do I trust when I decide to make a purchase. It is a challenge because supply chains are not transparent so it’s quite a subjective process.

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As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?

I’d like to see brands prove what they say they are doing with scientific facts, and also not leave it to the supply chain to manage. Greenwashing, for example, for products that are “eco friendly” is quite prevalent because the connection between the product claim and the supply chain is not always aligned.

What’s your typical work uniform?

I dress for comfort, so I like to wear shirts, jeans or pants that have some stretch, fit well, do not require ironing and are easy to clean.

Which fashion era is your favorite?

‘50s and ‘60s

Who’s your style icon?

Audrey Hepburn

What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?

Our CertainT platform enables DNA testing to be done on site using portable units.

How would you describe your corporate culture?

Collaborative, innovative, entrepreneurial

What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?

Assure consumers that the products they are buying are authentic and authenticated prior to sale.

What keeps you up at night?

Counterfeit products sold online with little to no screening, authentication and enforcement.

What makes you most optimistic?

We continue to work at being more open-minded as a society, and more globally aware, that we can find areas of commonality and work together, then the potential for a better way of life is unlimited.

Tell us about your company’s latest solution:

Applied DNA Sciences provides a platform called CertainT based on molecular technology. It’s an authentication solution that helps protect products claims, brands, traceability in global supply chains and allows consumers to have transparency associated with the products they purchase using the CertainT platform. In apparel, footwear and home textiles, Applied DNA provides authentication solutions for cotton, synthetics, recycled PET and other synthetics, viscose, leather, down and feather, as well as specialty coatings.