A new report called Cleaning Up Fashion calls on the government to put sustainability into action by recognizing and supporting pioneers' efforts and putting an end to exploitation and environmental harm.
The report, which was commissioned by the Fashion Roundtable and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion (ESF APPG), aims to outline the complex current issues, both environmental and ethical, that face the global supply chain on a national and international level while looking at both UK-based microbrands (MSEs) and larger internationally renowned brands.
The report looks at long-term solutions and offers critical suggestions for policymakers and industry leaders. If implemented, these recommendations would not only alleviate the potential suffering of garment workers at the bottom of the supply chain from Leicester to Xinjiang, but they would also address the fashion industry's escalating impacts on the environment's finite resources as a result of consumer choices based on unsustainable and non-transparent fashion business models.
The report highlights areas like worker exploitation, climate change, and sustainable solutions to assist sector transformation towards net zero and the leveling up agenda.
The recommendations made to the government include collective action for net-zero emissions; resourcefulness in the removal of waste; expediting legislative reforms to the Modern Slavery Act, and introducing a garment adjudicator; support for manufacturing and skills development in the United Kingdom; a reform of the present civil service structure to include a sector-led expert approach; Support for onshoring of fashion production through tax incentives and financing; and success criteria for a just transition and a prosperous economy.
Catherine West, MP and Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, Co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, said that in light of the global pandemic and the evidence they have heard: from non-payment of Bangladeshi factory workers, the Uyghur crisis with its implications on cotton manufacture, and closer to home, the Leicester scandal with its impacts on the fast fashion sector.
West added that the growing problems and challenges affecting the supply chain are detailed in this study. The paper also discusses the unsustainable implications of garment overproduction and the possibilities for a just transition to a future wellbeing economy. This would help firms become more sustainable, people be compensated fairly for their job, and innovation opportunities to promote more circularity of scarce resources would be expanded. They feel this has never been more vital or relevant than in the run-up to COP26.
Tamara Cincik, CEO and Founder of Fashion Roundtable, said that Cleaning Up Fashion not only identifies the main challenges confronting the sector but also gives a path to reform the sector and alter policy to enable success. They outline how the Earth's finite resources are being drained to feed a monster that is escalating and utterly unsustainable over clothing production, the race to the bottom on wage payments to garment workers, and the need for a united, coherent strategy from the government in line with their commitment to net-zero and the abolition of modern slavery.
Cincik added that this is an amazing piece of work that brings many actors in a complicated system together. Something they have a unique opportunity to facilitate. Cleaning Up Fashion is based on expert testimony, survey data, and their unique work with Parliament, Government, brands, and companies, and it gives a way to transform ideas into action. Fashion is a great, creative business to work in, but it needs to be cleaned up quickly if we are to encourage future creativity, properly compensate workers, addresses the climate catastrophe, and have any future at all.
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