Fashion Roundtable's statement on the fashion pact which launched at the G7 summit in Biarritz
By Tamara Cincik
Fashion Roundtable welcomes the fashion pact which launched this weekend at the G7 summit in Biarritz. President Macron has held prime position in leading the environmental conversation, both within the EU as well as in global policy making. He asked Francois-Henri Pinault from Kering to unite 32 fashion companies including Chanel, Inditex and PVH and 150 brands. However LVMH, competitor to Kering’s French fashion crown, is noticeable for its absence. It seems a shame that rivalry and fashion politics has come between what could be a fantastic opportunity for the fashion sector—an industry worth €1.5 trillion per annum (£1.36 trillion)— and for our textile sector, which constitutes 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 10 to 20% of pesticide usage. Meanwhile, washing, solvents and dyeing used in garment manufacturing processes are responsible for 1/5th of industrial water pollution. Fashion also accounts for 20 to 35% of the microplastic that flows into our oceans.
We have to stand together as a global, collaborative fashion industry and community if we are to address the consequences of our international supply chains and the serious impacts these are having on our seas, our air, and pollution levels. These effects extend to the interlinked issues of waste and the ethical impact of overconsumption and waste which push down wages and working conditions for many in the manufacturing sector. With Boohoo, the online UK fast fashion brand, offering a 50% sale this weekend, we have to join the dots between a consumer drive down on prices and the overconsumption which is creating huge clothing waste each season. The more we produce, the more we put on sale, the more we have added to the pollution and environmental catastrophe.
A Kering spokesperson is quoted in the BOF as saying: ”When you’re in fashion, the best ‘police officer’ is not the state, but it is the consumer, the citizen. From the moment these companies make public commitments, put the names of the owners, the CEOs, things really have to be put in place.”
This is not a position that Fashion Roundtable agrees with. Legally binding and state supported policy is what will drive radical change when it is unified with business directives and consumer demand. The reduction of plastic straws in our shops has nothing to do with business driving this, but is part of an EU directive taken up by Michael Gove in the UK while in his role as Secretary of State for DEFRA to ban their sale by April 2020. The consumer might be happy to not have to buy plastic straws, but it is nothing to do with a brand making that decision and everything to do with political will and policy agendas.
Modern day slavery for instance will only be eradicated from the fashion industry if the UK endorses the EAC Fixing Fashion report and the work of Baroness Lola Young on the amendment to section 54 of the modern day slavery act, who we at Fashion Roundtable will be working with from next month, more closely. We can create the space and we can set the tone of the next steps, but without a global interconnected directive, we will still have clothes in our wardrobes created by slaves, be that in Leicester or Bangladesh.
We absolutely welcome that Kering, Nike, H&M and Selfridges alongside these other companies have committed to set emissions targets - none of which are legally enforceable - consistent with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. We also applaud that they intend to set similar goals to protect and restore ecosystems threatened by their company productions, and take steps to reduce ocean pollution, such as eliminating single-use plastics by 2030 and supporting innovations to prevent microfibre pollution.
However with a climate emergency set at just over a decade and Extinction Rebellion trying to reform London Fashion Week we have decided at Fashion Roundtable to bring these important voices to the table, with a meeting at the Houses of Parliament next month so that we can collaboratively set targets, address concerns and then lobby for legal international authentic change.
The G7 Fashion Pact is part of One Planet Summit, which he launched in 2017, after President Donald Trump threatened the US would pull out of the Paris global climate accord.
A list of the signatories:
Capri Holdings (parent of Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo and Versace) Carrefour
Everybody & Everyone
Kering (parent of Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga among others) La Redoute
Tapestry (parent of Coach, Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade)