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Aki Choklat Brings Authentication and Personalization to Luxury Bags

The shoes and accessories designer is selling handbags with a built-in NFC RFID tag that enables users not only to authenticate their bags, but also to create a travel diary—and track down a bag if it is ever stolen.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 18, 2014

Aki Choklat, a designer of shoes and accessories, began selling a bag this summer that links a digital record about that bag with the physical product itself, via a Near Field Communication (NFC) tag located under the label and an application that a buyer uses to access the data. The solution is provided by Finnish RFID company FinnCode.

Choklat, whose studio is headquartered in London, says he has little background in technology, but that he was fascinated with the functionality that NFC technology could bring to his products.

The Ami, a unisex clutch bag made of leather, is one of the five NFC-tagged bags offered by Aki Choklat.
"I've always been interested in trends and futures in fashion," Choklat says. As a consultant, he provides trend forecasting to other designers and students. The ability to bring greater control over a high-value product to consumers through their mobile phones, he notes, would be a value to designers and other luxury-brand owners, such as himself. Last week, his firm became what he believes is the first handbag manufacturer to provide NFC technology with its products, though a company called Bagjack is embedding NFC tags in the high-end messenger bags that it sells (see Bag Maker Adopts RFID Solution to Prevent Counterfeits, Gray Market).

Choklat offers five different bags—all manufactured in Italy—with NFC technology built into them. A Smartrac BullsEye NFC tag, made with an NXP Semiconductors NTAG203 IC, is embedded inside each bag's lining, just below the logo, and encoded with a unique ID number.

The primary goal, Choklat says, is to provide customers with proof that the bag is authentic and not a counterfeit, and to enable automatic registration for the buyer. But there are numerous other ways, he says, in which NFC technology will make bag ownership more fun and personal, such as providing the ability to create a digital diary about where the bag is taken, share details regarding the bag's features with other owners, sell the bag, and find it in the event that it is stolen.

After a customer buys the bag from the Aki Choklat website, the company ships it anywhere in the world at no charge. Even before the buyer receives her bag, she is instructed, via an e-mail from Aki Choklat, to download the free FinnCode app from the Google Play website, and to install it on an NFC-enabled Android smartphone. Once the app is up and running, the customer can then tap the phone near the new bag's tag, in order to capture that tag's unique ID number. Reading the tag automatically opens the phone's browser and directs it to the FinnCode-hosted website that displays data about the bag—where and when it was created—thereby proving its authenticity. Although the customer is already registered at the site upon receiving the bag, with her name and contact details, she can also input or change her personal information.

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