A new bill in New York State could mark a significant step forward for fashion — specifically, in addressing the industry’s sustainability problem.
Sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Dr. Anna Kelles, the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (the Fashion Act) is a bill that, if passed, would require “any apparel and footwear retailer with global revenue of at least $100 million selling its products in New York” to adopt radical new measures.
Specifically, these companies would have to map at least 50 percent of their supply chain, from farms to factories to shipping providers. They would also need to identify and disclose what step in their supply chain has the greatest environmental and social impact.
Companies would also need to create a plan for reducing their imprint, as well as ensuring their carbon emissions are within the bounds of the Paris Climate Accord.
Lastly, in an effort to reveal the extent to which individual brands are affecting the environment, companies would have to disclose the volume of specific textiles — such as polyester, fur, or leather — they sell.
During a press conference announcing the Fashion Act, Maxine Bédat, head of fashion sustainability non-profit New Standard Institute (a supporter of the bill), stressed the importance of legislation in reforming the industry.
Individuals are often told to “do their part” in mitigating the climate crisis via practices such as recycling and buying from local businesses, but it’s important to remember that sweeping legislative reform is the only viable path towards meaningful change. (Let’s face it, swapping your plastic straw for a metal one doesn’t really do anything in the grand scheme of things.)
According to Kathleen Rogers, president of non-profit and Fashion Act backer Earthday.org, the industry faces “virtually no regulation.” In fact, no country has instated general legislation overseeing and mandating social and environmental responsibility in fashion.
If passed, the Fashion Act would apply to nearly every major player in the game, from luxury conglomerates LVMH and Kering (both of which previously adopted tools for measuring environmental impact) to fast fashion behemoths Zara, H&M, and Shein.
Basically, it would be a game-changer.
If you live in New York and support the Fashion Act (that is, you recognize the very real threat of climate change), help out by contacting local representatives; specifically, reach out to your New York State Senator and Assembly Member.