Measures against fast fashion: a "historic first step" but a vagueness that divides #845


The Assembly unanimously voted on Thursday for several flagship measures, including a ban on advertising for the sale of discounted clothing flooding the market and strengthened environmental penalties to make them less attractive. This marks the first reading adoption of a text described by environmental and human rights defense associations as “crucial” or a “historic first step”.

The proposed law (PPL), which will now have to be examined by the Senate, originates from the Horizons group, one of the three components of the presidential majority.

The main measure involves strengthening the bonus-malus system in the textile sector to account for the environmental costs of excessive production. The penalty would be linked to the environmental score of products, with a new product rating method to be implemented.

Its amount, to be set by decree, could gradually reach up to 10 euros per product by 2030, with a ceiling of 50% of the selling price. An amendment has provided for stages to reach these 10 euros, notably an initial stage at five euros by 2025.

It defines fast fashion, based on criteria such as production volumes and the speed of collection turnover, but defers to decrees to set quantified thresholds. This broad interpretation of the term fast fashion has stirred debate among businesses and associations, questioning who might be subject to these measures if they were ultimately adopted.

“Inapplicable” The coalition of NGOs Stop fast fashion thus welcomes the text for allowing “the accountability of online commerce platforms, such as Shein, Temu, Ali Baba, and Amazon, just like other fast fashion brands”.

However, it regrets the absence of “a definition in the law of practices that would fall under fast fashion” as well as “the requirement for transparency regarding the quantities put on the market by brands” and “social disclosure”.

Simon Peyronnaud, co-founder of Losanje, a company that valorizes surplus or second-hand textiles to produce new clothing, also hopes for broad thresholds. This would serve to “rein in low-cost textile product companies, many of which are excluded from the current proposal,” he told AFP.

The definition, which “remains very vague,” “impacts all fashion brands and marketplaces,” argues Marion Bouchut, spokesperson for the French branch of the Chinese giant Shein.

Stop fast fashion also applauds the deputies for introducing the environmental performance of products as a trigger criterion for financial penalties. Conversely, the Alliance du Commerce believes that with this measure, “the proposed law misses its target” and could affect national companies.

“The method (of this disclosure) is currently contested,” emphasized Yohann Petiot, its general director, to AFP.

Moreover, actors in the textile industry have reservations about how this text aligns with French and European law.

H&M thus urges the legislator “to build on ongoing projects at the European level, particularly those related to the harmonization of extended producer responsibility schemes for textiles, as well as the progress enabled by the anti-waste law for a circular economy (Agec)” adopted in 2020.

Isabelle Lefort, co-founder of the sector association Paris Good Fashion, believes that “France is quick to make laws but does not equip itself with the means to verify their proper application and thus their effectiveness”.

Yohann Petiot agrees: as it stands, the text “will be unenforceable, as it will be uncontrollable on international online sites”. In France, fast fashion is a growing sector, estimated at three billion euros in 2022, representing approximately 10% of the clothing sector’s revenue, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), cited by AFP. Shein, Temu, and Amazon “account for over 50% of ultra-fast fashion sales in France,” it highlights.

Fast fashion is not only inflaming the hemicycle of the National Assembly: measures aimed at slowing down the development of ephemeral fashion voted on Thursday are the subject of heated debates in the textile industry, with some finding the text too lenient, others too restrictive, in the absence of a strong definition.

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