EFS Consulting

French legislation to slow down fast fashion

France targets disposable fashion with a new law aimed at better regulating the sale of low-priced, poor-quality clothing that has a negative impact on the environment.

The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world. In 2020, it was estimated to be responsible for around 10% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, it accounted for around 20% of global water pollution and increasingly fills landfills due to its low recycling rates.

To address this, French politicians have proposed a law based on which these polluting processes shall also be reflected in the price of a garment. The law is a prime example of how a state can manage to protect its own industries while, at the same time, promote sustainable business practices.

Fair prices of fashion items

The proposed law includes a number of measures. Most notably it introduces a bonus-malus system based on the “polluter pays” model. It considers the different factors flowing into the production of the garment, e.g., air and soil pollution, human conditions. The worse the production conditions, the higher the tax. It could represent up to 50% of the price of the garment, with a ceiling set at ten euros. The aim is to reduce the price gap between these very cheap, low-quality brands and the others.

Fair consumer information and advertising

Next to a fair pricing the law also targets the companies’ communications. Advertisements shall be banned for “fast fashion” items. For this, it shall still be specified what falls under “fast fashion” and what the conditions for those in scope are.

Additionally, companies shall disclose their products’ environmental impact. The law envisages an environmental score for fashion items. The more harmful the product, the higher the number. This score shall include criteria such as microplastics, durability and potential to repair.

Less waste, more French fashion

The law has received unanimous support in the lower house of the French Parliament and will now be discussed in the Senate. The law is still in an early stage; however, France has already been a first mover regarding waste products. With its AGEC law (see a past Insight here) France extends the producer responsibility to many household products. Based on that scheme, producers must finance the return of waste and faulty products.

Now, France takes a step further and specifically aims for fair pricing and transparency of disposable products before they are becoming waste. This will reduce waste and has the potential to strengthen the national fashion industry. France houses many luxury fashion brands which have seen severe competition from cheap fast fashion retailers. Inevitably, this law shall promote a more sustainable fashion landscape promoting quality clothing.

See the proposed law here (in French only).

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