Fashion Updates

Assembly member Kelles advocates for the Fashion Act at the Global Fashion Summit

Published: July 22, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

New York state’s Fashion Act has garnered global attention as it seeks to address the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry. Assemblywoman Anna Kelles, who has dedicated the past two years to developing the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, presented the legislation at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, promoting collaborative efforts between nations and urging the implementation of comprehensive laws and regulations. This has generated interest and support from professionals and activists worldwide.

As a prominent fashion capital, New York plays a significant role in promoting sustainable practices and protecting workers in the fashion industry. Kelles, a Democrat representing Ithaca, emphasized the need for companies at all levels of the fashion supply chain to prioritize sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint. During her summit speech, she called for a multinational collaboration to take legislative action and establish regulations.

For years, the fashion sector has been linked to adverse impacts on both the natural environment and human rights. It contributes up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is notorious for child and slave labour. Kelles’ proposed Fashion Act aims to address these issues by requiring fashion companies to assess and disclose their negative impacts on the environment and human rights. Additionally, they would be mandated to set reduction targets.

Should the Fashion Act become law, companies would need to report their greenhouse gas emissions using international standards and regularly update their progress towards meeting reduction targets. Compliance would be assessed in an annual report by the state attorney general’s office, and companies failing to comply could face fines up to 2% of their gross profit. Compliance verification would be performed by a range of state agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Kelles stressed the necessity of legislative and regulatory action in levelling the playing field for fashion companies. By implementing such measures, companies would not face a competitive disadvantage for adopting responsible practices. Despite its support from various stakeholders, the bill did not progress in this legislative session. Kelles continues to engage with labour unions and rally support from large fashion brands, who may oppose the proposed legislation.

However, several notable fashion brands have already expressed their endorsement of the Fashion Act, signalling an increasing industry recognition of the importance of sustainable practices and worker protection. With New York serving as a global fashion hub, the implementation of this legislation could set a powerful example for other fashion capitals and encourage the adoption of more responsible practices throughout the industry.

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