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Track&Trace: A New Backstory Tool
Julia Levitt, 11 Dec 08
A Track&Trace code, and the MADE-BY button, on a clothing label

MADE-BY, an Amsterdam-based organization that promotes social and environmental sustainability across the consumer fashion industry, fashion brands, has launched a new interactive system for checking the backstory behind your clothing.

The program is called Track&Trace, and it currently allows consumers to track the backstory of products they purchase from a short list of Netherlands-based fashion brands. Visit the MADE-BY site and enter a code printed on the garment's label to pull up a history of the product that describes the places it's been and the people who played a role in its creation. (A few months ago, we posted about a similar system that tracks wool products from NewZealand-based Icebreaker)

The Track&Trace backstories take you step by step from the clothing brand company to the actual garment manufacturer, the workers who spun the yarn, the farmers who grew the cotton. Each step along that journey is illustrated with a photograph of an actual person, and a snippet of an interview talking about the labor and commerce at that level.

Of course, for those who want to make their purchasing decisions based on backstory, a system that requires a purchase before revealing the history isn't the ideal solution. And the brands associated with Track&Trace have already built their identities around sustainability, so all of this is largely icing. Nevertheless, it's an interesting tool that will hopefully inspire more responsible social and environmental practices across the industry. Getting to know a piece of clothing in this way could be a very enlightening experience for many consumers, since fashion comes cheap in many parts of the world, and it's easy to forget that the hundreds of identical items hanging on a store rack each trace back through the hands of people around the globe. It would be great to see more Track&Trace systems elsewhere, even outside the fashion world.

Images from the MADE-BY website.

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This is spooky! I just wrote a story for WorldChanging Canada that involved just this kind of technology for this very purpose, and it published yesterday:

Posted by: Madeline Ashby on 11 Dec 08

This is part of a wider movement to respond to consumer's demand to know more about where their products come from. It's happening on fresh food too - see what's going on at

Posted by: Elliott on 12 Dec 08

no request is too extreme

Posted by: maurice2k7 on 14 Dec 08

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