Sustainability has been a big topic of conversation in the fashion world and now, new legislation in the United States aims to hold fashion brands accountable for both their environmental and social impacts.
As Glossy reports, the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (Fabric) Act would be the first federal bill in the US to affect the fashion industry. The bill – which would affect brands, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers – aims to establish a stronger apparel industry by improving the working conditions of garment workers.
What is the Fabric Act?
While it has not been assigned to a House committee to study yet, once implemented, the Fabric Act would establish five processes to improve working conditions for garment workers. Ultimately, the bill would set an hourly pay rate, outline penalties for labor violations and create a US garment industry registry.
The Fabric Act is also anticipated to bring more production into the US since brand manufacturers would get a 30 per cent tax credit.
Certain states have been ahead of the game when it comes to sustainable fashion. In fact, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Garment Worker Protection Act into law in October 2022 and New York has been working to implement the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, or The Fashion Act.
What is The Fashion Act?
The Fashion Act was first introduced as a state bill in New York in January 2022, making it the first time a state would use legislation to hold fashion brands accountable for their environmental impact. If implemented, the bill would affect fashion companies that generate over $100 million in revenue per year, including big name mass consumer brands like Shein.
Essentially, the legislation would make said brands disclose information about their supply chains such as their carbon footprint and labor standards. As part of The Fashion Act, they would also have to reduce their environmental impact and fix any labor practices that are not up to par.
“The introduction of the Fashion Act has already had an important impact in shaping conversation and vocabulary in fashion, media and the consumer landscape,” Maxine Bedat, the director of non-profit New Standard Institute, tells Glossy.
After being amended in November with stronger language, The Fashion Act is anticipated to be ready for the January 2023 New York State legislative session, but it’s already had brands like Mango working to reorganize their supply chains.
“In the U.S., the Fashion Act will become the most complete [fashion industry] law in the country, since it covers both social and environmental impacts,” Mango Global Sustainability and Sourcing Director Andres Fernandez adds. “The latest updates of the bill include stronger requirements for chemical use and climate targets, more specific due diligence criteria and expanded enforcement provisions.”
In response to the legislation, Mango has announced that they will reduce their use of water, plastic and carbon – and they have even set specific targets for 2030.
Ultimately, this legislation is just one step in a bigger, global conversation around sustainability in fashion.
“Brands need to be prepared to be 100 [per cent] transparent and willing to change,” Samata Pattinson, CEO of global sustainable advocacy agency RCGD, urges. “They’ll see that it’s better to apply small changes but do so thoroughly, with the truth upfront, rather than aim for big goals without a true compromise.”
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