Fashion Teardown: Hack the Tracking in Tommy Hilfiger's 'Tommy Jeans Xplore'

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Fashion Teardown is a column within The Fashion Robot where we post a regular tear down of a single garment. This column is written in the spirit of engineering teardowns in which a gadget or software is taken apart and the components are analyzed.

Garment: Tommy Jeans Xplore

Last week, Tommy Hilfiger introduced a new line of smart garments in a collection called 'Tommy Jeans Xplore.' The collection is comprised of a range of womenswear and menswear from t-shirts to denim jackets that track when you're wearing one of the garments and where you are. In a Pokemon Go-like fashion, it encourages you to spend time at particular locations to get more points.

It was met with a cynical disapproval by publications like Tech Crunch [1] and Business Insider [2] who posed questions about the collection's purpose and the privacy issues around the data being collected, even calling it 'ridiculous.'

 A t-shirt from Tommy Hilfiger's new capsule collection: Tommy Jeans Xplore.

A t-shirt from Tommy Hilfiger's new capsule collection: Tommy Jeans Xplore.

Components

The components on this garment are where tech meets old school. The aesthetic of the collection is a 90s beach throwback with classic construction detailing; a contrast against the technology in its bluetooth enabled smart tags.

The smart tags were built by Awear [3].  To reveal the actual technology, we removed the jacquard label from the inside of the shirt and... voila the chip and battery were revealed.

 The tag from the outside.

The tag from the outside.

 The tag from the inside, this is where the 'magic' happens.

The tag from the inside, this is where the 'magic' happens.

 We took a simple seam ripper and removed the tag from the inside of the shirt.

We took a simple seam ripper and removed the tag from the inside of the shirt.

 On the topside, you can see this device is a simple combination of a coin cell battery and a small PCB board in an ultrasonic welded plastic pouch.

On the topside, you can see this device is a simple combination of a coin cell battery and a small PCB board in an ultrasonic welded plastic pouch.

 The 'Smart Tag' was revealed instantly and was otherwise unattached to the garment.

The 'Smart Tag' was revealed instantly and was otherwise unattached to the garment.

 The PCB can be easily carried in your purse or pocket of any garment.

The PCB can be easily carried in your purse or pocket of any garment.

Strengths

Although the collection did receive criticism, there is a wave of thinking, particularly in communities like the blockchain community, which indicates a consumer desire to be rewarded for consuming or promoting brand advertisements. In this case, the rewards could be viewed as a win-win. Wearers are able to collect on wearing Tommy's logo as well as enjoy this cozy beefy cotton tee and Tommy is able to gain insights into the exposure their 'wearable billboards' have on the street.

While for many consumers this idea may be jarring, brands have been paying people to wear their garments on the street for years. In many ways, this effort reminds me of the Brave browser Basic Attention Token which raised $35 million in less than 30 seconds. The goal of that project was to reward users for consuming ads in their browser.

Weaknesses

The Xplore collection does have a number of weaknesses. For one, I can remove the smart chip from the garment and wear it anywhere I want for as long as I want without advertising for Tommy at all.  Secondly, I can spoof my phone's location and make Tommy believe that I went where they wanted me to go. Both of these weaknesses would result in me being able to collect rewards without executing on Tommy's desired behavior.

To the blockchain-enthusiasts out there, this is the perfect case study of how translating authenticity and security in the physical world has its challenges.

So... all in all, what do you think? Are you ready for some sweet Tommy rewards?

Should you be rewarded for wearing designer logos?
Should you be rewarded for wearing designer logos?

Hacking the Tommy Jeans Xplore Collection by Leanne Luce The Fashion Robot

Tommy Jeans Xplore Signature T-shirt

Color: Dark Purple
Available in sizes XS - XL