On Friday, January 7, New York state presented a novel bill, known as The Fashion Act, demanding a transparency percentage in regards to their supply chains of at least 50 per cent from all large New York apparel and footwear retailers. The revolutionary act is also demanding a number of other requirements, the ensemble of which culminates into one of New York’s most significant steps forward in achieving transparency and ethics within the fashion industry. This is the kind of news that inspires the ÀLA.HAUSSE team to keep fighting for sustainability.
The transparency and ethics-focused bill, sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and State Assemblywoman Dr. Anna Kelles, would require that larger retailers (global revenue of at least $100 million) release 50 per cent of information related to their supply chains and their associated environmental impact. However, the bill does not specify which 50 per cent, meaning that is left to the discretion of the discloser. It is also required that they describe how they are going to address any environmental issues that may have resulted or are going to result from their processes; that they engage in ethical labor practices; and that they complete an annual compliance report outlining their progress to reach ‘science-based targets’ of environmental concern.
The information that the fashion act is asking for may fall into a number of categories, including but not limited to supply chains, material sources, transformation processes, shipping procedures, energy usage, emissions, and water and waste management.
For the New York fashion companies unwilling to comply, a two per cent fine will be applied to their annual revenue. All income gathered from this fine will be redirected to a community fund authorized by legislation and overseen by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The fund will use the money for environmental projects that benefit environmental justice communities.
“This legislation will require companies to perform mandatory due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for actual and potential adverse social and environmental impacts in their supply chain,” said Maxine Bédat, Director of the New Standard Institute, one of many organizations supporting the bill under the umbrella group ‘The Act on Fashion Coalition’.
“New Yorkers have a powerful role to play in ensuring industries are practicing ethical standards in labor and environmental sustainability while at the same time ensuring a thriving local industry,”
Besides having to disclose their supply chains and both report and act on their associated environmental impact, fashion chains that do business in New York will also have to provide a great deal of information in regards to their labor practices. This includes the disclosure of the median wages associated with their workforce, as well as any procedures that encourage responsible business conduct when policies and managerial systems are emplaced.
For those who aren’t as science-savvy, there is a portion of the act referring to science-based targets which may be a bit confusing. As the Fashion Act states, it is required that the affected companies set what are known as science-based targets, to achieve sustainability and ethics goals in the future.
A science-based target is exactly what it sounds like, given the right context. The companies in question set science-based goals that are intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). However, the choosing of a science-based target still requires the following of a strict set of guidelines, such that the goal chosen aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The bill is one of many steps the fashion industry is taking towards a more transparent, sustainable, and ethical means of business. The fashion designer Stella Mcartney, for example, is transitioning her company’s business model, as is Adidas, H&M, and Puma, to accommodate the circular economy of the future.
Agencies like Eco-Age, which focus on the achievement of sustainability goals within corporations, are springing up to assist with this transition as well. Such companies build positive media relations and corporate reputation by encouraging them to implement more sustainable practices into their brand strategies.
With both the political and private sectors pushing for change in the fashion industry, there are sure to be many more adjustments on the road ahead.
As a company that holds ethics and sustainability to the highest standard, we at ÀLA.HAUSSE encourage politicians to continue to fight for further transparency and action from the fashion industry. We agree that the ‘old way of doing things’ will no longer suffice, and that companies today will need to adjust their approach to business accordingly.
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