min read

Realistic pathways to adopting digital product passports in fashion

We look at what Digital Product Passports are, and how LAYBL can be a low-cost, non-intrusive way of working towards this soon to be mandated technology.

Realistic pathways to adopting digital product passports in fashion

What are Digital Product Passports?

The sustainability spotlight is very much on fashion and apparel at the moment. The impact of clothing on the environment is undeniable and it is often cited as the third big polluter after oil and agriculture.

The EU is introducing the Digital Product Passport to help combat the impact and waste of consumer products, and Fashion is one of the value chains it is targeting initially. The Digital Product Passport has the core aims of:

  • Holding manufacturers and retailers to account for the clothing they produce/sell, specifically for the impact and waste they create
  • To help consumers make more informed decisions about the things they buy and have trust in the information given to them
  • To support relevant authorities in verifying and enforcing sustainability claims and standards

At its core, a Digital Product Passport is a digital twin of a physical product. For clothing, it's a digital representation of a garment that provides detailed information about its origin, materials, manufacturing process, and more. The idea is to give consumers a transparent view of the product's lifecycle, from raw material to its end-of-life.

While this is a European initiative, it is relevant to UK brands because any clothing from the UK that is sold in the EU will be subject to the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) [PDF], which is the legislation that also encompasses the Digital Product Passport.

The hurdles for adopting current Digital Product Passports

The concept is promising and no doubt needed, but there are significant challenges in achieving widespread adoption, especially for smaller, independent brands.

  1. Disruption: Implementing Digital Product Passports requires a complete overhaul of the production process. Brands need to integrate new systems, train staff, and adapt to a new way of doing things.
  2. Cost: Adding physical tags like RFiD or QR codes to garments isn't cheap. For smaller brands, this can be a significant barrier to entry and because of production lead times, any potential ROI cannot be realised until way in the future.
  3. Consumer Interaction: It's still unclear how consumers will use these passports. Beyond checking basic data or aiding in resale – will they truly engage with them and add any post-sale value/insight to aid circular activity?

In short, the biggest issue for independent brands is that huge investment is needed and there’s a long delay in realising potential benefits. Secondly, without more focus on what the Digital Product Passport means for the post-sale journey of the product, and a focus on engaging with the consumers and circular community, it may just become an expensive box-ticking, legislative exercise only.

Enter LAYBL: a simple, non-invasive step towards Digital Product Passport adoption

If Digital Product Passports are on your radar, or you’re simply intrigued, but the challenges and costs are making you wary, LAYBL offers a middle-ground, incremental approach.

LAYBL has made the conscious decision to not be a defacto Digital Product Passport solution from day one. Like you, we understand the need to get there one day, and that is our ultimate goal, but we wanted to create a solution that gets you directly to the value-point of a Digital Product Passport today, all with very little investment and organisational change required.

We see the value-point as being able to understand the post-sale journey and integrating with the circular economy – basically asking and answering the question: “what happens to our products after we sell them?”

How does LAYBL work?

LAYBL is a no-code, low-config solution for digitally tracing garments and requires no alterations to your current inventory. It’s currently an ecommerce only solution designed to work with Shopify, while support for additional platforms is coming soon.

LAYBL connects to your ecommerce store and captures your catalogue and orders. Every time a product is sold, a unique LAYBL ID is created and the ownership logged with the customer who purchased it.  

A LAYBL mobile app is provided to consumers, collecting lifetime reviews, periodic usage data, product history, and changes in ownership for the clothing they own, feeding it all into the LAYBL platform.

You in turn get access to the LAYBL dashboard, our product-specific analytics platform, that allows you to access previously unseen insights into the life of the products you sell.

How does LAYBL differ from other solutions?

Ease of Use: No need to modify your clothing or develop new software. LAYBL is non-invasive and integrates seamlessly with your existing processes.

Cost-Effective: LAYBL offers a virtual ID system, linking garments to consumers without the need for physical tags. This means no added costs for tagging each garment and you get to see the benefits right away.

Community Building: LAYBL isn’t about being a box-ticking exercise. It’s about trying to build a community and forge genuine connections between brands, their products, and their consumers. It strives to bridge the gap between the traditional retail model and the emerging circular economy.

Quality as a sustainability metric: Finally, LAYBL puts quality, longevity and satisfaction front and centre in the sustainability discussion. LAYBL is about taking accountability for the things you sell and following their journey through the circular economy. Making a product ‘sustainably’ is one thing, but being able to prove that you create products that last, are cherished, retain value, and have long lives, is arguably the least understood and most important part of sustainability.

Backwards compatibility with Digital Product Passports

The other key thing we wanted to achieve with LAYBL is to create something you could use today, but build upon and evolve into a Digital Product Passport longer term. LAYBL is designed to be a wallet for multitudes of other physical IDs and tags in the future.

For example, if you start creating QR code or RFiD tagged garments in the future, these can be contained within the LAYBL ID. Or do you offer a repair service which sees you retrospectively tagging garments as part of the process? These can be added to yours and the customer’s existing LAYBL ID.

The best part of LAYBL being digital-first is that you’re not being forced to commit to a tag/label vendor just yet, which would in turn be in all your garments for life whether you retain the solution or not.


The future of Digital Product Passports looks like a long-game full of uncertainty and gambles, and for smaller independent brands, a potentially prohibitively expensive experiment that is highly disruptive.  

One thing is clear: brands need a way to experiment with the concept without the high cost and disruption. LAYBL offers a smart yet simple approach to investigating Digital Product Passports, providing brands with a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution that bridges the gap between today's online retail landscape and the future of fashion. Join the revolution and see how LAYBL can transform your brand's relationship with its consumers.

Request a demo

If you're interested in finding out how you could start tracking your garments in a low-risk, no-code way, with no modifications to inventory or production lines required, please get in touch today.

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