US clothes firm comes clean on RFID plans
Silicon | January 26, 2005
US clothing manufacturer Abercrombie & Fitch has finally admitted it is using RFID.
Last year, clothing labels belonging to the preppy clothing favourite - with the shop name blacked out but the company's logo still visible - were found at an RFID trade show.
At the time, representatives from the company displaying the tags, Checkpoint, said they were for display purposes only and Abercrombie & Fitch representatives said they could neither confirm or deny the clothing company's involvement with the technology.
Today at the RFID ROI Summit, Neco Can, senior director of application development at Abercrombie & Fitch, said the retailer is trialling the technology.
He told silicon.com: "We're testing it. We've got a couple of plans, we're looking carefully at it."
"We're seeing whether it's doable or not," he added. "Everybody is [looking at RFID]."
When questioned on whether Abercrombie & Fitch is looking at case- and pallet-level tagging, Can said: "I don't believe the case model is the right one," and added Abercrombie & Fitch's supply chain would be best suited to item-level tagging.
Can also offered advice to would-be RFID users to woo privacy advocates yet added that consumers' privacy is very much an ephemeral thing.
"If you [do a pilot], you should talk with people... go and talk to Caspian so you don't become the target," he said. Privacy group Caspian has been campaigning against RFID and has been vocal in its opposition to item-level tagging in particular.
Can added: "Did you know you that the government can track you down within 20 feet" if your mobile phone is on, he said. "We already gave our privacy away."
However, Can said that Big Brother fears were entirely unfounded, and that technology that would theoretically permit burglars to scan houses for expensive goods just doesn't exist.
"We can't even get the stupid thing to work, now we're going to scan a whole street... I wish we could track our customers that way. We can't even find their email address to send them anything," he joked.
Can also revealed that another, more unlikely company, had once tinkered with RFID tagging its products - Coca-Cola.
There were "two chips on every can - it never worked", he said.