What is RFID, How it Works and Why is it Important for Sustainable Fashion?

rfid moda sostenibile

Here is how RFID works and why it is important for sustainable fashion: discover its applications and implications.


  1. Introduction
  2. What is RFID?
  3. How RFID works?
  4. What are the applications of the RFID tag?.
  5. RFID Tags vs. Bar Codes. What are the advantages?
  6. Why is RFID so important for  sustainable brands?
  7. RFID, product traceability and sustainable fashion.
  8. Conclusion: a key tool for many sustainable brands


If you are passionate about sustainable fashion, then RFID technology is a topic you cannot miss. This technology has become increasingly important in the sustainable fashion industry as it represents an innovative way to track products, improve transparency in the production chain and ensure the sustainability of the materials used. 

In this article, we will explore together what RFID is, how it works, its applications and why it is so important for brands striving for a more sustainable future for our planet.

1. What is RFID?

RFID, or Radio-Frequency Identification, is a technology that is revolutionising the world of logistics and manufacturing thanks to its ability to track products accurately and on time. RFID tags, which can be applied to products of different shapes and sizes, contain a microchip that communicates with a reading device, called a reader, using radio waves. 

Through this communication, the reader can detect the identity of the tag and thus the associated product, allowing it to be tracked in real time. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global RFID market is expected to reach $40.5 billion by 2025, due to the increasing adoption of this technology in various sectors, including fashion, healthcare, automotive and food.

2. How RFID works?

 But how exactly does RFID work? Basically, when an RFID tag enters the range of a reader, it is activated and starts transmitting its data to the reader. The reader detects the tag's data through radio waves and processes it to obtain useful information, such as the location of the product or its production date. 

To make it simple, here are the main steps of RFID operation:

  1. The RFID tag is applied to the product to be tracked.
  2. The reader detects the tag when it is in range.
  3. The tag is activated and transmits its data to the reader.
  4. The reader processes the data to obtain useful information about the product.
  5. The information can be used to track the product from when it is produced to when it is distributed (as is the case with Oscalito).
  6. This simple process improves supply chain management and provides greater transparency at every stage of production and distribution.

3. What are the applications of the RFID tag?

 The RFID tag has multiple applications and can be used in different sectors. Below you can discover some of its possible applications:

  • Product Tracking: RFID tags can be used to track a product from production to distribution, allowing for greater transparency and better supply chain management. In addition, the RFID tag can be used for stock tracking and inventory management.
  • Asset Management: RFID tags can be applied to valuable objects, such as machinery, medical equipment or works of art, to track their location and maintenance status.
  • Access Control: the RFID tag can be used to control access to certain areas or buildings, enabling a higher level of security.
  • Electronic Payments: the RFID tag can be integrated into credit cards or mobile devices to enable contactless payment.
  • Animal management: the RFID tag can be used for tracking animals, such as livestock on a farm.

In summary, the RFID tag is a versatile and useful technology that can be used in many contexts, and its adoption can have important implications for the sustainability and efficiency of a brand.


4. RFID Tags vs. Bar Codes. What are the advantages?


In the world of supply chain management, both RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags and barcodes are used to track and manage objects. However, RFID tags offer some advantages over barcodes.

RFID tags are able to read data without the need for a direct line of sight, as is the case with barcodes. This means that RFID tags can be read through walls, boxes and other materials, which makes them much more flexible and suitable for tracking objects. In addition, RFID tags can read several objects at once, which makes them much more efficient than barcodes.

RFID tags have a greater storage capacity than barcodes. In fact, RFID tags can store up to 2 kilobytes of data, whereas barcodes only have the capacity to store a maximum of 20-25 characters. This means that RFID tags can contain more detailed and complex information than barcodes.

Finally, RFID tags are more durable than barcodes. Barcodes are printed on paper or stickers and can be easily damaged if exposed to moisture, heat and other adverse conditions. In contrast, RFID tags are made of durable materials and can be used in extreme conditions without being damaged.

The following table summarises the main advantages of RFID tags over barcodes:






They can be read through walls and other materials

They require a direct line of sight

Storage Capacity

Up to 2 kilobytes of data

Only 20-25 characters


Built with durable materials

Easily damaged when exposed to moisture, heat and other adverse conditions



5. Why is RFID so important for  sustainable brands?

RFID has become an increasingly central issue for brands that are committed to environmental sustainability. But what are the reasons why RFID is so important for sustainable brands? Let's look at them one by one:

  • Reduced Waste: thanks to product traceability, brands can avoid wasting materials and resources during production and logistics.
  • Increased Efficiency: RFID enables more efficient warehouse and shipping management, reducing waiting times and shipping errors and increasing delivery speed.
  • Improved Transparency: by being able to track every step of the production process, brands can offer more transparency to their consumers and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
  • Reduced CO2 emissions: by making warehouse and shipping management more efficient, RFID can help reduce CO2 emissions from the transport and storage of products.
  • Increased Security: RFID can quickly identify problems in the supply chain, such as defective or potentially dangerous products.

In a nutshell, RFID represents a major opportunity for sustainable brands that want to improve their efficiency, reduce waste and CO2 emissions, and provide greater transparency and security in the supply chain.


6. RFID, product traceability and sustainable fashion 

RFID is a technology that can be used to track products within the supply chain and logistics, offering greater control and transparency over products and their origin. 

This becomes particularly important in the context of sustainable fashion, where ethical and sustainable materials are crucial issues if you are a 'conscious consumer' and want to embark on a more sustainable lifestyle.

Thanks to RFID, sustainable brands can demonstrate that their products are ethically and responsibly produced, giving consumers the opportunity to verify this information and make informed purchasing choices. Furthermore, RFID can help prevent counterfeiting and falsification of products, assuring consumers that what they are buying is authentic and of high quality.

Conclusion: a key tool for many sustainable brands

In conclusion, RFID is an increasingly present technology in the world of sustainable fashion, thanks to its ability to track products throughout the production chain, improving the efficiency and transparency of processes. 

Oscalito, in 2013, was the first brand in the world to introduce RFID technology on every single garment for complete and total supply chain tracking from yarn to finished product. All information about the materials and production processes on the garments are stored on the RFID microchip and can be consulted via reader when needed.

Fast fashion brands have also been using RFID for some time, but not in terms of complete supply chain traceability. The Swedish brand H&M introduced RFID in its supply chain in 2012, with the aim of improving the efficiency and transparency of the supply chain. Thanks to RFID, H&M was able to better track products along the supply chain, reducing waste and increasing the speed of distribution. Adidas, Zara, Nike and Levi's have also adopted RFID to improve their supply chain management and make their production more sustainable. 

These examples demonstrate how RFID has become an essential technology for the sustainable fashion industry, enabling brands to become more efficient and transparent, reducing waste and improving the overall environmental impact of production.

RFID enables a more informed shopping experience for consumers, who can choose to support sustainable brands that are committed to ethical products. 

Furthermore, the adoption of RFID can be an opportunity for brands to improve their sustainability and reduce waste by optimising production and distribution. Thus, RFID represents an important tool to achieve a more sustainable and responsible fashion that respects the environment and workers' rights.

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