The Future Of Fashion Depends On Governmental Intervention

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 months ago | Features

Image: UK parliament, where fast fashion reform was recently rejected. Image source.

The UK government recently rejected fast fashion sustainability reform, after it launched an investigation last year, into the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry. And still too few governments are taking necessary action when it comes to climate change. All of which is increasingly worrying, considering governments are crucial in revolutionising environmentally damaging industries like fashion.

This is something that Patagonia learned when they discovered slave labour in their supply chain, for example. Setting about addressing this issue, the brand’s VP of Public Engagement, Rick Ridgeway explained that this could never have been done without the help of local government.

“Our immediate response was that this was the kind of issue we’d be very unlikely to solve on our own. That it was the kind of issue to require multi stakeholder inclusion,” Ridgeway recalls. “In this case, we were going to have to partner with the Taiwanese government – because the factories were in Taiwan – and we were going to have to partner with the suppliers themselves, in a way that would make them feel safe about actually trying to [address] this.”

When we think about a government’s responsibility to its citizens, we often think of health, safety and education. Anti-drink-driving advertisements, sun safety pamphlets and educational campaigns are all par for the course within this domain. So why should it be any different when it comes to informing people about the risks associated with their clothes?

Risks that include toxic chemical use, environmental degradation and the violation of human rights, just to name a few. Educating consumers about these sorts of issues is just the first step in helping them make more educated decisions about the clothes they buy.

But educational campaigns are just the tip of the iceberg. There is also so much more that governments could be doing in terms of mandating fair labour for garment workers and putting a cap on the toxic pollution being generated by factories as well. Whichever way you look at it, the future of fashion depends on governmental intervention – and we need to be seeing a lot more of this across the board. 

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