September 23, 2004

CASPIAN obtains photos of prototype clothing tags

An unnamed national company plans to tag all of its clothing items with radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking devices in 2005, according to Checkpoint representatives at last week's Frontline Expo 2004 trade show in Chicago.

Checkpoint is the leader in electronic theft prevention tags and has recently begun encouraging its clients to incorporate RFID in their tagging programs. 

Could the mystery brand be Calvin Klein, Champion, or Abercrombie & Fitch? Representatives from Checkpoint wouldn't say, but based on what we saw, any one of these companies could be toying with the idea. CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) obtained clear shots of prototype RFID clothing tags bearing these companies' logos.

[Click here for detailed RFID tag and label photos]

[Click here for detailed RFID tag and label photos]

"While Checkpoint didn't reveal the company name, representatives did refer to the company as a well-known national retailer.' That was one clue," said Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director of CASPIAN. Another clue could be the two prototype dark blue hang tags that "screamed for attention," according to Albrecht.

Albrecht revealed photos that show how Checkpoint attempted to obscure the company brand name on two blue hang tags at their display. Checkpoint representatives reported that the tags contained EPC-compliant RFID chips.

"The manner in which Checkpoint concealed the name leads us to question whether the tape was there to hide the brand name or create drama around the tags," says Albrecht. "Researchers at CASPIAN are pretty good at sniffing out the industry's dirty little secrets, but this was pretty much handed to us on a silver platter. Checkpoint failed to cover over the Abercrombie & Fitch collegiate logo at the end of the tags."

Additional evidence suggesting that Abercrombie & Fitch could be the mystery company comes from a May 18, 2004 Women's Wear Daily article titled "Abercrombie to Give RFID a Try." The article cited statements made by an Abercrombie & Fitch executive at a retail conference earlier this year where he described a new store format that "would be the first in the [Abercrombie & Fitch] group to use RFID at the item level."  

CASPIAN's Albrecht characterizes any plans by Abercrombie & Fitch to roll out item-level RFID tagging as ill-advised. "They're still reeling from boycotts over their marketing practices. It would be a PR disaster for them to further antagonize the public."

Ongoing boycotts of the company were launched by Christian and family oriented organizations, including Focus on the Family, in response to Abercrombie & Fitch's sexually explicit marketing materials. These materials have glorified teen nudity and group sex.

Albrecht offers this parting advice to companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Champion and any other companies considering item-level RFID tagging: "Don't do it. Study what happened to Benetton before taking advice from RFID proponents like Checkpoint. It can be hard to win back customer trust once you've crossed the RFID line."

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since 1999. With thousands of members in all 50 U.S. states and over 30 countries worldwide, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing strategies that invade their privacy and to encourage privacy-conscious shopping habits across the retail spectrum.

For more information, see: and


home | overview | faq | blog | press | get involved | about us

The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
2003-2007 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.