This year in New York, the “groundbreaking” act of fashion will go down in history by holding huge companies accountable for their role in climate change.
All multinationals operating outside the fashion capital, from Armani to Boohoo, Prada to Shein, will be forced to map at least 50% of their supply chains and focus on the weakest ties in terms of the environment and human rights. The Fashion and Social Responsibility Sustainability Act (or Fashion Act), which was promulgated on Friday, may be the first time a U.S. state or any country has set broad sustainability requirements for this sector.
“As the global capital of fashion and business, New York State has a moral obligation to pioneer in minimizing the impact of the fashion industry on the environment and society,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, initiator of the bill.
In a press statement, she called it “game-changing legislation that would make New York a world leader” in ensuring the “accountability” of the fashion industry.
Gone are the days when New York City’s supply chains were linked around the Manhattan garment district. Our clothing now travels the world as part of the manufacturing process. This makes it very difficult to trace their ancestors.
Supporters of the new Fashion Law praised the breadth of its application in addressing this problem. Under the bill, companies must describe the lifespan of their garments from the fields where the raw materials were collected, through manufacturers and transportation.
They then need to identify the areas where they have the most negative impact on the environment and people. They will have to learn things like fair wages, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water, and chemical management. They must also demonstrate clear plans for improvement in line with the Paris Agreement’s carbon reduction targets.
Fashion houses must also report the production of their materials, such as the amount of cotton or leather they sell and post this information publicly on the Internet.
Failure to do so will result in a fine of up to 2% of annual income, and the money will go towards environmental justice initiatives run by the U.S. Department of the Environment. The New York attorney general will also name and shame them, forcing them to reform, cutting their shop floor wages.
Biaggi and co-sponsor Anna R. Kelles want to put the bill to a vote at the end of April. Companies will have 12 months to comply with supply chain mapping rules and 18 months to disclose their results if successful.
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