Readers of a certain age will remember when stone-washed jeans and acid-washed denim were the height of fashion—at least in high school hallways and college bars. However, the harsh bleaching and abrasion that's required to produce the once-trendy effect has made it tough for manufacturers to mark individual items with track-and-trace technologies, an essential tool in the digital supply chain.
Biological researchers may now have found a solution, applying the building block of all life—deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA—to enable field-to-finished-garment authentication based on DNA molecular tagging.
In a recent study, researchers put DNA molecular tags to the, um, acid test. Denim swatches were treated with unique DNA tags produced by Applied DNA Sciences Inc., then subjected to stone and bleach washings in labs at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. The samples were then analyzed at Applied DNA's laboratories, where it was proven that the DNA tags remained intact and suitable for high-quality forensic analysis, allowing scientists to verify the authenticity of the finished denim garment. The method may soon be tested at a full manufacturing facility, according to an article published in the September/October 2018 issue of AATCC Review, a publication of the American Association of Textile CHemiäts and Colors.
"This technology will enable brands and manufacturers to track their fibers from the farm through to the finished product, allowing for a more transparent supply chain," Sean Cormier, FIT assistant professor for textile development and manufacturing, said in a release. "Traceability can also help verify certain sustainability claims about commodities and products."