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This Startup is Turning Clothing Labels Digital to Boost Transparency

If there’s one thing that’s been made clear in retail recently, it’s that consumers want the brands they buy from to tell a story, and to tell a story that’s honest and transparent.

And BrightLabel wants to use labels to help them tell that story.

The tech-savvy startup provides a software platform that allows for digital labeling and leverages that technology to help brands boost their transparency and get consumers more engaged.

As Bruce Thomson, BrightLabel co-founder and CEO, explained during a presentation at Texworld USA last week, these digital labels can tell the stories behind the product, stories that can’t be told in traditional labels.

“There’s an increasing demand for products that consumers can feel good about, and brands are responding,” according to Thomson. But, he said, “There is a gap between the information consumers want in order to make the kind of informed decisions that they want and what most brands are currently providing.”

Here’s how a BrightLabel works: a BrightLabel tag can be attached to a garment, sewn in or printed on products. Each digital tag has rich product content, like the brand logo, promotional photos, size and color information, and beyond that, it includes details on product origin, materials, sustainability and sustainability certifications, product features and care instructions—and all the consumer has to do to get all of that info is scan the product specific QR code.

But the experience gets even more detailed and personalized than that. Consumers can set up alerts based on personal preferences, like whether something contains organic cotton or is made up of recycled materials, and when they scan the BrightLabel using the BrightLabel app, an alert will pop up highlighting those things they’re looking for. And taking yet another step further in considering the consumer, a label can be saved to the user’s MyCloset, which catalogues imagery of the product, its features and care instructions (among other things) for future reference so that in the event a sewn in label is pestering them and they decide to cut it out, there’s no guesswork when it comes time to wash the garment.

On the brand benefit side, companies could include things like video within the product features section to help enhance consumer understanding of the product, can include links to their social media accounts and can even push special offers directly to the consumer via the label.

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“In our mind, digital labeling opens up a whole host of opportunities for companies that can provide a great deal of value,” Thomson said.

Where BrightLabel really provides value is in the area of sustainability. More and more major retailers like H&M and Zara continue to advance in terms of sustainable products and processes, but consumers may not be as all-knowing about these efforts as the brands might hope.

“It’s clear that brands are committing, but is the consumer getting that message?” Thomson posed. “We’re trying to create a platform that can be accessed digitally that can provide the consumer a great deal more information.”

Adding to that, digital labels are endlessly customizable, so if a brand is trying to move product from one factory to another in a different country, they’d never have to do things like remove labels on the product to sew in new labels in new languages or with varying care instructions as per that country’s requirements.

“There’s a whole new level of supply chain flexibility built into that,” Thomson said. “The possibility that you no longer need 12 pages of labeling if you want to ship goods to more than one factory.”