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France works to slow down “fast fashion”

  • April 6, 2024
  • 2 min read
France works to slow down “fast fashion”

France’s lower house of parliament has backed a series of steps to tackle low-cost “fast fashion” including products from China. The measures would make these items less attractive to buyers. The vote makes France the first country that is “legislating to limit the excesses of ultra fast fashion” according to Christophe Bechu, the minister for ecological transactions. The ruling still needs a vote in the senate.

Measures include an advertising ban for the cheapest textiles and an environmental charge on low-cost items. The French clothing has been inundated with cheap imported clothes and a number of domestic brands have had to declare bankruptcy as a result.

The environment however was the main argument for the ban however.  “Textile is the most polluting industry,” said Horizons party deputy Anne-Cecile Violland. The sector, she added, had been responsible for a tenth of greenhouse gas emissions and was responsible for pollution in the water.  

Criteria including volumes of clothes produced and turnover speed of new collections are used to determine what is and isn’t fast fashion, according to the new law. Chinese company Shein, Violland pointed out, had made “7,200 new clothing items a day,” calling it an  example of intensive fashion production. Once the law comes into force, specific criteria will be published.  

Fast fashion producers will be required to inform consumers about any environmental impacts of their output and a surcharge linked to this is planned at €5 (£4.20) per item, rising to €10 by 2030. It will not however exceed 50% of the price tag. Proceeds from this would go to subsidise producers of sustainable clothing, helping them to compete more easily, Violland noted.

A plan to limit advertising was also approved but not all agree. “A ban on advertising for textiles, especially fashion, spells the end of fashion,” said conservative lawmaker Antoine Vermorel-Marques. An initiative put forward by leftwing and Green party deputies to include penalties for those breaking the law, import quotas, and stricter workplace criteria for the whole industry was struck down.

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