The fashion industry's understanding of the legislative landscape has reached a critical level. A fact supported by new legislation like the one passed by the French Parliament that introduces mandatory environmental labelling for all consumer goods. It is change that has accelerated the industry's thirst for knowledge. As a result, those attempting to navigate the new regulations have found themselves entering Battle Royale without the correct armour.
Better Late Than Never
As a long overdue crackdown sweeps across Europe, there is room to optimistically believe that the fashion industry could make positive strides towards a greener future.
Zooming in, these legal changes will most likely mean that the fashion industry is headed towards a future where it can no longer operate with relatively minimal regulations. This is a good thing, because if the past has shown anything, it is that the absence of stringent rules has led some brands to negligently spin unclear, inconsistent and inaccurate information without legal consequences.
So with legislation promising to become the most effective weapon against the environmental issues the fashion industry faces today, what should the next step be for fashion brands trying to comply?
Well, conversely, a smooth transition with very few bumps is possible. The Fashion Innovation Centeis prepared and focused on being part of 'the change'. Through the lens of industry expertise, the Fashion Innovation Center is equipped to help companies define a clear road map and identify opportunities supported by innovative concepts and the scaling up of ideas that work within the parameters of new legislation.
“Compliance to legislation will be like an eye of needle. Practical actions need to back up the talk,” explained Kurt Svegår, COO/Co-Founder of Fashion Innovation Center.
As E.U. Directives continue to place legislative pressure on the fashion industry, here are a few legal changes that have been kickstarting conversations about the fashion industry's future:
FEBRUARY 2020: Leading the way in France. In 2020 they adopted a comprehensive Anti-waste law. The objective of this law was to eliminate waste and pollution from the design stage and transform the production, distribution, and consumption system from a linear to a circular economic model.
SEPTEMBER 2021: In the U.K., the Competition and Markets Authority published a Green Claims Codto help businesses understand and comply with their existing obligations when making environmental claims. The Code also aims to protect consumers from misleading sustainability claims concerning a company's products or services, particularly concerning companies involved in textiles and fashion.
JULY 2021: The following year, on 13th July 2021, the French Parliament reached an agreement on the "Climate and Resilience Law", which made it possible to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels
FEBRUARY 2022: A new E.U lawwas introduced to tackle human rights and environmental standards within their supply chains. It is an initiative that applies to companies operating inside and outside the E.U. market. Corporations can be sanctioned for non-compliance and must provide legal support for victims in case of incidence. There is also a ban on importing products linked to severe human rights violations such as child labour.
MARCH 2022: the European Commission adopted the "E.U Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles", which proposed several measures that target the entire life cycle of textile products.
JULY 2022: The new "green button" label lawpassed in Germany. It requires companies, including the textile industry, to meet a minimum of 26 social and environmental standards, ranging from supporting labour rights to testing for chemical residues.
Also, in July, part of France's new climate bill passed that requires a "carbon label" to be included on garments and textiles to help inform consumers about the environmental impact of their purchases.
JANUARY 2023: The French decree 2022-748 imposes an obligation to inform the consumer of a product's qualities and ecological characteristics, which will apply to all products under a chain of extended producer responsibility (EPR). This obligation concerns, among others: electrical equipment, furniture elements, household packaging and textile products (except leather articles). It will therefore apply to all brands of clothing and accessories that offer their effects on the French market.
As policymakers and campaign organisations continue to propose and lead legislation campaigns that could shape a new direction for fashion brands, expect to hear future noise from countries like the Netherlands. The Dutch government has plans to enforce producer responsibilit. It will be directed at textile manufacturers or importers. They will be co-responsible for managing the waste of the products. The Extended Producer Responsibility EPR (Uitgebreide producentenverantwoordelijkheid, UPV) for textiles is expected to enter into force on 1st July 2023.
Also, by 2025, all E.U. municipalities are expected to have textiles collection systems. Ahead of expectation is France. The French government already requires clothing producers and retailers to pay for clothes to be collected, sorted and recycled. Putting this E.U. a plan for a standardised practice could encourage potential incentives and lower textile collection costs for brands with smaller environmental footprints.