France votes to limit ‘excesses’ of fast fashion

Discarded clothing / Shutterstock

Measure is part of package aimed at limiting pollution associated with cheap, imported clothes.

France’s National Assembly has approved a series of initiatives aimed at reducing the appeal of low-cost fast fashion, particularly products from Chinese mass producers.

Christophe Bechu, the Minister for Ecological Transition, hailed Thursday’s vote as groundbreaking, making France the first country to legislate against the extremes of ultra-fast fashion. However, these measures still await approval from the Senate.

The proposed measures include banning advertisements for the cheapest textiles and implementing an environmental levy on low-cost items.

Environmental concerns

The French clothing market is inundated with cheap imports, leading to bankruptcy for many domestic brands. However, the focus of the proposed law, championed by Horizons party aligned with President Macron, is primarily environmental.

According to Deputy Anne-Cecile Violland, the textile industry is highly polluting, responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and significant water pollution. The law will define fast fashion based on production volumes and turnover speed of new collections, targeting companies like Shein, known for their rapid output.

Once enacted, the law will require fast fashion producers to disclose environmental impacts and impose an ecological surcharge of €5 per item, rising to €10 by 2030. However, this charge cannot exceed 50% of the item’s price. The revenue will subsidize sustainable clothing producers to enhance their competitiveness.

Despite concerns from some lawmakers, advertising restrictions for fast fashion were approved. Other proposed measures, such as minimum penalties for rule-breaking producers and stricter industry criteria, were rejected.

While France is renowned for its luxury brands, the lower-end fashion sector has faced competition from European rivals like Zara and H&M, as well as emerging giants like Shein and Temu from China.

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Marina Lorente

A Spanish woman who has returned to her motherland after 6 years living in London. She is passionate about nature, animals and yoga.