Despite the fact that the fashion industry is a significant carbon emitter and impacts human rights around the globe, it’s gone largely unregulated up to this point. But some major players would like to see that change.
A group of brands, journalists, non-profits and more have come together to sign a letter advocating that President Biden appoint a “fashion czar,” because, they argue, “a high level advisor is needed to coordinate the policies and people of the fashion industry.”
The idea that fashion ought to be regulated just like any other industry has been floating around in sustainability spaces for awhile as a potential solution to some of the environmental and social ills plaguing supply chains. But it was a succinct articulation of this view, presented by Elizabeth Segran in Fast Company last week, that spurred more focused action.
Hilary Jochmans, a political consultant with expertise in both fashion and politics, took Segran’s piece as a jumping-off point to craft a letter to the president, which she plans to present to White House staff and members of Congress on Friday, according to an email from Segran. In the letter, Jochmans draws from Segran’s article to lay out the impact of the fashion industry and build a case for its regulation.
“A czar should be empowered to bring together key industry participants, advocate for policy changes, and have a senior role within the Administration,” states the letter. “The creation of a Fashion Czar would signal your Administration’s commitment to humane labor and environmentally sound practices as well as a recognition of the role of fashion as a driver of the US economy.”
So far, the signatories include brands like Mara Hoffman, Thredup, Allbirds and Reformation; journalists from publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Business of Fashion; and non-profits like Fibershed, Fashion Revolution USA and Sustainable Brooklyn.
“As fashion week gets underway in the US, a spotlight will shine not just on the clothes being shown, but also the practices and policies of the industry,” reads the letter. “We stand ready to work with you to advance the creation of a Fashion Czar and to promote this vibrant, creative, and economically important industry.”
Only time will tell whether the letter achieves its goal or not, but either way it seems to be a serious reflection of the momentum building behind the idea that policy change and regulatory oversight is needed to make fashion a more responsible and equitable industry.