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This is Why Designers Want President Biden to Appoint a Fashion Czar

In order for sustainable fashion to have a widespread impact, we need governments and legislation to step in and set industry-wide standards. Several designers, brands, and journalists have echoed that sentiment and are banding together to request the newly appointed President of the United States to help get the ball rolling. 

Key Takeaways:  Regulation: The Need of the Hour

Today, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions annually, while it is estimated to use around 1.5 trillion litres of water every year. Additionally, concerns have been rising about pollution, from chemical waste to microplastics. These frightful numbers are the result of decades of ignorance and lawless operations in the industry and if they continue to go unhandled, it could accelerate damage to the environment and continue to exploit human labour.

Late last year, the UK's CMA and its EU counterparts began probing into ‘greenwashing’ claims made in the consumer goods sector. Following which, they are set to publish new guidance for businesses in the summer of 2021. This will present an opportunity for fashion brands in the European and UK region to make their products live up to their marketing. In an attempt to follow suit, American journalist Elizabeth Segran drafted a letter for the Biden Administration to tackle the fashion industry's ever-growing environmental and labour problems head-on in an article for Fast Company last month. Her suggestion was straightforward: Biden should appoint a fashion czar in the United States government. 

What Would a Fashion Czar Do?

A ‘czar’ is a person appointed by the government to advise on and coordinate policy in a particular area. And as per Elizabeth Segran’s proposal, the fashion czar would be appointed at cabinet-level, much like the Biden administration’s climate czars and COVID-19 czar. And this person would be responsible for championing the White House’s agenda in discussions with Congress as well as federal agencies, specifically the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labour. Ultimately, the czar would be tasked with pursuing regulation and persuading Congress to pass laws that curb the industry’s negative impact on the environment and workers, while encouraging businesses to come up with innovative solutions that tackle these problems. Echoing their support, brands like Everlane, ThredUp, Rebecca Minkoff, Allbirds and Reformation, among many more have signed the proposal submitted to the president.

The Ball Is in Biden’s Court

President Biden has already displayed much promise since he took office earlier this year. Hours after being inaugurated, President Joe Biden reentered the United States in the Paris Agreement, as he had promised to do. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 countries with a mutual goal to limit global warming to well below 2º, preferably to 1.5º Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

This came in as a much-welcomed decision after former President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement in 2017 — which had European allies extremely worried that it would undermine efforts to get other countries to make ambitious cuts in their emissions since the U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter after China.

The Biden administration has already expressed a desire to crackdown on human rights abuses in China, where 1.5 million Uighur Muslims are detained in forced labor camps that supply cotton to the United States. By appointing a fashion czar, the United States has the potential to become the leader in a global movement toward a more sustainable fashion industry.

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-03-30

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