By Symeon Oshea

LVMH, the Prada Group, and Cartier under Richemont have joined forces to found the Aura Blockchain Consortium.

In April 2021, a few international leaders of modern luxury, including LVMH, the Prada Group, and Cartier under Richemont, came together to create the Aura Blockchain Consortium, which aims to promote the use of a single global blockchain solution open to luxury brands worldwide. The blockchain (a public financial ledger used to record information in a way that makes it nearly impossible to alter or remove) will permit customers to directly authenticate luxury products by providing information about their source of raw materials, manufacturing, as well as the transfer of ownership certificates. 

The Aura Blockchain Consortium is a non-profit conglomerate of luxury brands investing in technologies that will enhance the consumer experience. The Aura Blockchain uses what is known as the ‘Quorum‘ enterprise blockchain. 

Their primary goal is to create blockchain solutions that are readily available to all luxury brands despite their size or sales volume. Aura aims to provide tools that instill transparency and trust for stakeholders and consumers alike. The core belief of the consortium lies within collaboration and the mutual understanding that collaboration and competition can co-exist.

Last year, the Aura Blockchain Consortium announced a deal with diamond technology firm Sarine Technologies to incorporate the latter’s ‘Diamond Journey’ traceability solution into its blockchain solution. Fine jewelry brand Bulgari is just one of the LVMH brands that uses the blockchain platform, as does Cartier.

Using its secure digital format, the Aura Blockchain Consortium hopes to develop new blockchain technology to provide consumers with an additional layer of transparency for existing products. Digital authentication has been one of the primary uses of such technology and offers buyers consumer protection at a level that has never before existed.

Last week, Mercedes-Benz joined the Aura Blockchain Consortium, becoming the fifth founding member (and first car manufacturer) to join the platform. “We are delighted to welcome Mercedes-Benz as our fifth founding member, coming from an entirely new luxury industry sector. This is a concrete step toward our overarching strategy to welcome all sectors of the luxury industry,” said Daniela Ott, secretary-general of Aura Blockchain Consortium, in a joint statement.

With the advent of the metaverse, the consortium has also accelerated its roadmap development to include various NFT solutions (non-fungible tokens), always in line with its collaborative dictum, “by luxury brands for luxury brands.”

The luxury auto manufacturer expressed interest in creating unique digital art (including the possibility of NFTs) to offer a new range of products and even in-car experiences that integrate into their latest multimedia car systems. Vehicles could eventually become a custom art space, fully immersive using light, sound, and visualizations. “We use digital art to create desire in-car and beyond. Incorporating it into the user interface/user experience is one future opportunity to differentiate the Mercedes-Benz luxury experience through the joy of the unexpected,” said Gorden Wagener, chief design officer of Mercedes-Benz Group.

This Thursday, Consortium partner and member Prada will launch 100 Ethereum-based NFTs to accompany its recent Time Capsule apparel release, all using the Aura Blockchain. Part of the collection is the Prada x Cassius Hirst unisex button-down shirts (available in black or white), each of which comes with a corresponding NFT of either a black or white pill capsule. The NFTs will feature the drop’s serial number and the specific number associated with each shirt. The venture suggests that the brand’s focus will remain on physical items, while NFTs will be an added incentive for bonus content and goods. 

This won’t be Prada’s first (or last) foray into the metaverse. The brand partnered with sportswear giant Adidas to release a joint NFT collection on Polygon in January. Prada Crypted also launches this week, a community on Discord for brand enthusiasts. 

Considering the Aura Blockchain Consortium’s high-profile founding members and innovative technology, it wouldn’t be amiss to imagine a day when all luxury brands with metaverse ambitions adopt it as a necessity.

Image courtesy of Prada.

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