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New report Cleaning Up Fashion urges government action

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Image: Pexels
By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Jul 19, 2021

A new report called Cleaning Up Fashion urges the Government to amplify sustainability in action, recognising and supporting the work of pioneers and putting an end to exploitation and environmental harm.

Commissioned by Fashion Roundtable and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion (ESF APPG) the report aims to outline complex current issues, both environmental and ethical, facing the global supply chain on a national and international level, looking both at UK based micro brands (MSEs) and larger internationally renowned brands.

The report explores long term sustainable solutions, with key recommendations for both policy makers and business leaders. These recommendations, if actioned, would not only mitigate against the potential suffering of garment workers at the bottom of the supply chain everywhere from Leicester to Xinjiang; they would also address the escalating impacts of the fashion industry on the environment’s finite resources, as a consequence of consumer choices based on an unsustainable and untransparent fashion business models.

Highlighted issues included worker exploitation, climate change as well as sustainable solutions to support sector transformation towards net zero and the levelling up agenda.

The recommendations to Government and industry at large are:

  • Collective action for net-zero Emissions
  • Resourcefulness for waste elimination
  • Expedite Modern Slavery Act legislative changes and introduce a garment adjudicator
  • Support for UK manufacturing and skills development
  • An overhaul of the current civil service system to provide a sector lead expert approach
  • Tax Incentivising and funding to support onshoring of fashion manufacturing
  • Measures of success for a just transition and wellbeing economy

Catherine West MP and Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, Co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion said in a statement: “In light of the global pandemic and the evidence we have heard: from non payment of Bangladeshi factory workers, the Uyghur crisis with its implications on cotton manufacture and closer to home the Leicester scandal with its impacts on our fast fashion sector. This report outlines the escalating concerns and issues impacting the supply chain. The report also highlights the unsustainable consequences of the overproduction of garments and outlines the opportunities for a just transition towards a future wellbeing economy. This would support businesses to be more sustainable, workers to be paid fairly for their labour and scope the possibilities for innovation to support greater circularity of finite resources. In the lead up to COP26 we believe this was never more important or timely.”

Tinkering at the edges of change is not an option for a sector as critical to lives and livelihoods as critical in economic, environmental and social terms as fashion.

Professor Dilys Williams, Special Adviser to the ESF APPG and Head of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion

Tamara Cincik, CEO & Founder, Fashion Roundtable said: “Cleaning Up Fashion, not only highlights the key issues facing the sector, it offers a roadmap to transform the sector and change policy to support success. We outline the haemorrhaging of the Earth’s finite resources to feed the monster that is escalating and utterly unsustainable over production of clothing, the race to the bottom on payments to garment workers and the need for a united coherent strategy from the Government in line with their commitment to net zero and eradicating modern slavery. This is an incredible piece of work that brings together many actors in a complex system. Something we are in a unique position to enable. Based on hearing evidence from a series of experts, our survey data and our unique work with Parliament, Government, brands and businesses, Cleaning Up fashion offers an opportunity to turn insights into action. Fashion is a fantastic, creative industry to work in, but it needs cleaning up, fast, if we are to support future talent, pay workers fairly, end the climate crisis and indeed have any future at all.”

The full report can be read here.