Fashion brands

New law aims to hold major fashion brands accountable for their role in the climate crisis

Sustainability mandates in fashion largely lack strict laws that can hold brands accountable. But, if passed, New York’s Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (“Fashion Act”) will be the first in the United States to impose durability on the biggest names in fashion.

As stated in the context of the law, Stella McCartney said: “Fashion is one of the most harmful and under-policed ​​industries. Unfortunately, the idea that we self-regulate [is] not a fair thing to ask of an industry. We need to be helped. If only we could have regulations, policies, [standardised] methods to measure our impact.

Announced earlier this year, before New York Fashion Week, the law will apply to fashion and accessories brands with more than $100 million in annual revenue and operating out of New York. This will include luxury fashion houses like Prada as well as fast fashion giants like Shein.

While many brands have already committed to sustainability goals minus any regulations, like Kerring, the law will impose strict regulations to ensure an increased commitment to sustainability. This will eliminate the advantages that companies could enjoy by adopt climate-friendly methods Manufacturing.

Here are the provisions of the law, as set out in its Legislative Backgrounder:

Clear, relevant, common and transparent environmental accounting and information

Currently, the company’s estimates and reports on environmental impacts is voluntary, inconsistent and often unaudited. This legislation would require clear, relevant, common and transparent reporting on energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water, plastic use and chemicals.
management. Reporting of greenhouse gas emissions would be required to adhere to the universal environmental accounting standards set out in the GHG Protocol Enterprise Standard and the GHG Protocol Scope 3 Standard. This will provide an apple-to-apple comparison of the impacts of different companies.

To tackle the plastic crisis, companies would be required to disclose their material use, including plastic-based materials, opening up what has been a black box in the industry. These material disclosures would be an essential first step in limiting the use of plastic in the fashion industry.

Mandatory Science Targets

The law will require companies wishing to sell in the New York market to set and meet science-based targets. The science-based targets mean that the pace of reductions is in line with the scale required to keep global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Mandatory Due Diligence and Meaningful Labor Disclosures

the fashion industry relied on a flawed system of factory audits that failed to stem labor abuses in its supply chain. By requiring mandatory due diligence, companies will be required to actively engage in improving standards in their supply chain.


The law would be enforced by the Attorney General or the administrator designated by the Attorney General. Additionally, citizens can bring a civil action against an offending person or business, or to ensure that the Attorney General enforces the requirements of the law. Businesses found to be non-compliant and failing to remedy within three months of the notice of non-compliance can be fined up to 2% of their annual revenue.

It also states that the proceeds of the law will go to disadvantaged communities who suffer disproportionately the effects of the climate crisis. This includes “communities of color, immigrants, people with low incomes and people whose first language is not English”.

Under the National Law Review, companies will be given a deadline to comply and make an impact – 12 months to comply with the mapping directive and 18 months to make their first impact disclosures.

Will this law change the way sustainability in the fashion industry is promised and delivered?

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