Among the sustainability innovations introduced in 2023, the most basic is the obligation to due diligence, which requires companies to identify and report the actual and potential impacts of their entire supply chain on the environment and worker conditions. The directive is among the regulations recently approved by the European Commission, but it also concerns the United States, after the approval of the New York Fashion Act, which regulates the fashion industry in the United States for the first time. The problem, however, is that Companies don’t seem to like it.
During the last two years, Kenneth Pucker She actively collaborated with the New Standard Institute to promote the passage of the New York Fashion Law, a significant step toward regulating the fashion industry in the United States. This groundbreaking law requires brands operating in New York State to disclose impacts and reduce carbon emissions in line with global limits. Despite constructive collaboration with various industry players, including progressive and activist brands such as Patagonia and Reformation, some proposals have generated considerable concern from main fashion brandsthat would simply define Mandatory disclosure of information relating to their supply chains is “impracticable”. which would be essential to guarantee transparency. Pucker talked about this in depth in a recent article in BOF, explaining that the resistance mainly comes from the fact that, despite technological advances such as blockchain, mapping software and smart sensors, many companies in the sector consider “almost impossible” to track exact suppliers who actually grow their own cotton, tan their own leather, dye their own fabrics, due to the subcontracting system that involves factories and the fact that the raw material goes through infinite processes mixing with other fibers and substances, becoming difficult to trace . in its original state. Even the insatiable market demand, which forces production rates to accelerate incredibly, has a negative impact on the traceability of the supply chain, which is continually restructured in the wake of the latest new product to be introduced. last minute in the desired offer. he continues it pressure to increase gross margins and revenue of which the fashion industry is both victim and perpetrator produce blindly with the sole objective of minimizing costsdetermining the opacity and transience of the supply chain and making a significant Outsourcing looking for cheaper producing countries. A child of trade liberalization, the latter has certainly contributed to the expansion of the sector, but since the 1990s it has left behind a trail of environmental damage and more: it continues to feed an unhealthy perspective that places emphasis on cost rather than in quality. . The situation – not surprisingly – is very different, in short, from what it seemed in the 1950s, when manufacturing for many brands remained in-house and production was geographically concentrated, which significantly simplified the issue of traceability.
He low cost mirageso loved by manufacturing companies and by consumers who only think about saving without consequences, is responsible for serious environmental and social damage: one of its most problematic derivatives is fast fashion, which was born precisely from a romanticization of these assumptions and contributes to making fashion one of the most harmful industries for the planet, a trend that, despite all the efforts it seems to make in the field of sustainability, is estimated to only get worse over the next decade, with a 47% increase in polyester production.
However, it will be necessary for companies to find a way to accept the new regulations. In fact, traceability is essential to be able to present transparent ecological statementswhich now officially fall within the impositions of the European Parliament after theapproval of laws anti-greenwash that prohibit generic and misleading labels (such as “green”), providing a whole series of specifications in the information relating to the composition of the product. Not only that, the recent UFLPA (Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law) legislation strengthens its control over the negative impacts generated by large companies, which will have to pay collateral damage resulting from its production – and by this we mean everything from carbon emissions to labor abuses. Disclosure, clear, transparent and courageous, will be essential to maintain the reputation of brands that care about the direct relationship with the consumer and that want to send a message of authenticity.