NEW YORK—Kering Eyewear has announced the launch of its V.I.R.T.U.S project: a Verified, Integrated, Reliable, Trustworthy, Unique and Secure data exchange platform built upon blockchain technology. The frame maker described V.I.R.T.U.S as "a key enabler of assessment and traceability of all operations involved in the manufacturing system," adding that the move is "a further attestation of Kering Eyewear’s objective to comply with the Kering Group’s overall sustainability pillars of Care for the planet, Collaborate for people and Create innovation grounded on low-impact solutions and innovative materials."

Kering Eyewear’s new V.I.R.T.U.S. system adopts blockchain technology on a regulated platform that will allow the company to measure and quantify the impact of all parties and processes throughout production flows. Every partner in the Kering Eyewear network will record directly on the digital platform the data and information required to verify that each link within the chain is actually adhering to the quality standards and environmental, social and ethical practices that Kering Eyewear sets, the company said in a statement.
Barbara Lissi, Kering Eyewear’s global head of supply chain, said, “V.I.R.T.U.S. is a complex and challenging journey through real innovation and sustainability. “After a three-year launch phase, we are now able to  start building a clear and transparent roadmap of our entire supply chain, achieving detailed analysis and knowledge about the provenance and characteristics of each composition and each manufacturing   technique behind what we do. We believe that collecting and sharing truthful information, tracking down the source of the raw materials and components used, is the most consistent and respectful way to corroborate the quality of our products and their full compliance with our ethic and aesthetic standards.”

Barbara Lissi (l) and Daniel Bellini.
The blockchain is a centralized, distributed ledger that allows all parties to contribute to the creation of Kering Eyewear’s product-specific database through univocal and unalterable transactions without any intervention from intermediaries. This secure system avoids hacks and manipulations. All data uploaded to the ledger lead to the complete traceability of the manufactured good, following the product’s path directly from its origins of raw materials to processing, final assembly and related certifications. At the end, it delivers an exact, complete and reliable overview of every action behind the crafting of Kering Eyewear, the company said.

Kering Eyewear piloted this system in 2018 with an initial participation of five partners. It has since evolved and currently has 16 partners involved. Kering Eyewear forecasts V.I.R.T.U.S. will extend to the entire Kering Eyewear supply chain starting next year, including the direct participation of Certottica, the Italian Institute of Certification of Optical Products.

This new governance structure involves the use of a proprietary tool to ensure the vertical mapping and scrutiny of its value chain across a widespread organization made up of more than 20 key suppliers who also work with large numbers of contractors and sub-contractors in Italy and abroad, Kering Eyewear said, noting that the V.I.R.T.U.S. system aims to ensure compliance from all of these organizations.

Daniel Bellini, Kering Eyewear’s global head of IT and planning, said, “Fostering innovation means adapting state-of-the-art technology to the philosophy of collaboration and sharing at the heart of our company. Our blockchain-based method ensures the protection, security and authenticity of every transaction providing complete identifiability and traceability of our products and partners through verifiable and immutable data. This initiative not only represents a true revolution for the industry but also a profound and inevitable transformation of our progressive path toward increased efficiency and transparent communication.”
Kering Eyewear, founded in 2014, develops and distributes eyewear with a portfolio of 16 brands and is part of the Kering Group (Kering Group (PARIS: KER), the global luxury company.