Building a sustainable fashion ecosystem: meet Natasha Franck

The fashion industry is one of the biggest industrial polluters in the world. But founder Natasha Franck is using IoT (Internet of Things) technology to usher in a new era of sustainability in the fashion world.

When fashion technologist Natasha Franck founded her digital identity company EON, she saw firsthand how challenging it was to achieve a sustainable lifecycle of products across industries: How do we identify all products and materials at scale, across the world, and keep materials in constant use?

She realized that giving every piece of clothing a unique digital identity and connecting them to the Internet of Things would unlock the necessary intelligence and transparency to manage a sustainable lifecycle of products—resale, rental, reuse, and recycling. This was the way she’d help effect change industry-wide.

Where fashion meets the Internet of Things

Natasha isn’t as interested in fashion as she is in waste—perhaps atypical for the CEO and co-founder of a fashion technology business. In the early days of EON, it was almost an obsession: “I read everything I could about waste and possible solutions to this global epidemic,” she says. “In fashion–where there are 150 billion articles of clothing made every year and 90% of these textiles are ending up in a landfill–the consumption of resources and production of waste is never-ending. And when burning trash is still the main means of disposal, we’re left with some serious air quality concerns worldwide.”

She quickly learned the fashion industry is actually one of the largest industrial polluters in the world after big oil, so she decided to do something about it. Her solution? Linking the fashion industry to the circular economy and the Internet of Things, using technology to mimic the circular ecosystem we see in nature.

Everything that nature produces, it utilizes.

- Natasha Franck
90% of textiles from the fashion industry end up in a landfill.

Fashion: one of the biggest polluters in the world

In fashion–where there are 150 billion articles of clothing made every year and 90% of these textiles are ending up in a landfill–the consumption of resources and production of waste is never-ending.

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Powering a circular economy

Collaborating with industry leaders, Natasha and her team at EON are launching The Global Connect Fashion Initiative to codify a standard for digital identity, help bridge communication gaps across the value chain, and power a circular economy.

“By giving every product a unique digital identity, we power transparency across the value chain and make it possible to create the fundamental systems of change essential for our global transition to a circular economy,” says Natasha.

natasha-sustainable-fashion-cycle

Using technology to transform the fashion industry

But to effectively change an entire industry, Natasha faces the challenge of getting major brands to opt in. Fortunately, they’re now starting to see the possibilities of the circular economy: Natasha won the H&M Global Change Award in 2016. And with Microsoft tools, she’s able to build and showcase on a broader scale the change that EON is effecting with its products, leading to greater adoption industry-wide.

It’s the first step in what’s likely to be a long and transformative shift. The rest of the industry—along with consumers—still needs to get up to speed with the advancements in IoT technology, which is expanding and improving almost daily.

For Natasha, given what’s at stake, it’s a change she believes the industry is ready to adopt.