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November, 13th 2020

Good jeans with good genes? Staiy had the opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of Haelixa’s revolutionary fashion DNA marker. Enabling brands to trace their products along their supply chains, this technology supports each brand’s standards of sustainability and proves authenticity from farm to retail.

Words By Allison Markowski

Look down at what you are currently wearing. Do you know where you bought it from? Even for the most infrequent of shoppers, this answer probably comes easily. Do you know where it was made? You might think, “Easy! It’s on the tag.” Now ask yourself: where was the fabric of your shirt produced? Even more challenging: where was the raw material of this fabric grown? In our modern society of consumerism, powered largely by globalization and complex supply chains, these questions are not so easy to answer. And perhaps more worryingly, they are rarely asked.

Swiss company Haelixa is working to promote transparency and sustainability in the fashion industry by helping brands and consumers answer such questions using their state-of-the-art DNA technology.

The Technology

Haelixa has developed an invisible ‘DNA’ marker that enables brands to trace products from source to shop shelves. Working primarily within the textile and gemstone industries, this synthetic DNA is applied directly to the material, attached to either the raw materials such as cotton or silk, or intermediate products such as fiber, yarn, or fabrics. The final products can then be tested at any point along the supply chain to trace the origins of their component parts. In short, the DNA tells us what materials are used and who supplied them.

The results are gathered through a qPCR ‘paternity’ test which can be conducted at Haelixa’s facilities or at any third-party lab. In fact, this is the same test currently being used worldwide to detect COVID-19 in individuals. This revolutionary product is harmless to both humans and the environment, and is robust enough to survive tough industrial processes such as bleaching and dying which can be harsh on both the fabric and Haelixa’s marker.

Competitors have commonly used content analysis tools to achieve similar results: analyzing the elements in soil and in a product to determine its specific region of origin. Haelixa, however, traces the product even further. By creating the equivalent of unique ‘fingerprints’, their DNA markers can identify specific farmers to pinpoint the exact source of each material.

Haelixa’s marker enables brands to obtain forensic proof of origin of each product as well as for their journey along the entire supply chain, affording claims of authenticity and accountability more weight than ever before.



The Values

Sustainable, ethically produced, fair trade – these are just a few of the trending labels that some of the biggest names in fashion have attached to their brands in recent years. In an era of rampant greenwashing and a significant lack of consensus on terminology and standards, customers can be left skeptical and uncertain of where to direct their ‘buyer power’ to consume more consciously.

Haelixa’s own values promote transparency and sustainability along the supply chain, encouraging a ‘proof is in the pudding’ approach to sustainable production and consumption. Brands can prove the authenticity of their products with a Haelixa test, and customers can base their shopping decisions on this tangible proof instead of misleading reassurances.


The Big Picture

The relevance of Haelixa’s technology is twofold, reducing doubt on both the brand and consumer sides. Brands regularly market their products and production methods using obscure standards and certifications that may not reflect their reality. For the most part, this deception is unintentional. Due to the complex, long-winded supply chain a garment goes through to become that suave jacket hanging in the store, brands are often ignorant to the reality behind every step. Through Haelixa, brands can ensure that the standards they claim to uphold are respected by their suppliers. Moreover, it gives them the opportunity to communicate this proof to the end consumer. This not only protects the company’s image but can be used as a tool to fulfill corporate social responsibility and prove product integrity. For instance, a brand can assure their customers that a shirt they market as 100% cotton is not blended with other, non-organic, material.

The need for proof is becoming increasingly urgent as customers demand more accountability from the places that they shop. Haelixa provides clarity and fosters trust between companies and customers.

Moving Forward

In its next steps, Haelixa aims to increase awareness around traceability among end consumers – everyday shoppers who desire authentic, sustainably created products. They want to help them understand that companies can and should be challenged and held accountable. By questioning their claims of sustainability, consumers can encourage greater transparency, facilitating a positive change in clothing supply chains.

“We as consumers have so much power that sometimes we are not aware of and don’t know how to use” – Director of Marketing, Haelixa

Haelixa leaves our readers with a final call to action: “Look closely and do not be afraid to ask brands and retailers about the origins of their products and under which circumstances they are being produced.” Demand the change you want to see.