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France is planning a fashion revolution with climate brands

#France #planning #fashion #revolution #climate #brands

Is it better for the environment to buy a brand new cotton t-shirt or a recycled one?

Recycling has obvious benefits, but the process shortens the cotton fibers, so it usually needs to be mixed with some oil-based material to keep it from falling apart.

Such trade-offs make it difficult to find out the actual sustainability rating of clothes – but brands in Europe will soon have no other choice.

By next year, every garment sold in France will need a label detailing its exact climate impact – with a similar rule expected for the rest of the European Union by 2026.

That means juggling many different and conflicting data points: where and how were the raw materials grown? What was used for coloring? How far has it travelled? Was the factory powered by solar energy or coal?

The French Agency for the Ecological Transition (Ademe) is currently testing 11 proposals on how data can be collected and compared – and what the resulting label could look like to consumers – using 500 real-life garments.

“The message of the law is clear – it will be mandatory, so brands need to prepare to make their products traceable and organize the automatic collection of data,” Erwan Autret, one of the coordinators at Ademe, told AFP.

“Some say the models are too simple, others too complicated, but it’s a sign of the maturity of the debate that no one is questioning the need for these calculations anymore.”

– ‘Transparent and informed’ –

The need for a change in fashion is urgent.

Statistics are notoriously difficult to verify, but the UN says industry is responsible for 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, as well as a significant chunk of water use and waste.

Labels can be an important part of the solution, activists say.

“It’s going to force brands to be more transparent and informed… to collect data and build long-term relationships with their suppliers – all things they’re not used to,” said Victoire Sotto of The Good Goods, a fashion and sustainability consultancy.

“Right now it seems infinitely complex,” she added. “But we’ve seen it used in other industries, like medical care.”

Faced with the wind, the textile industry has developed a race for technical solutions.

A recent presentation from Premiere Vision, a Paris-based textiles conference, highlighted many new processes, including non-toxic leather tanning, dyes made from fruit and waste – and even biodegradable underwear that can be tossed in the compost.

But the key to sustainability is using the right fabric in the right garment, said Ariane Bigot, deputy fashion director at Premiere Vision.

That means synthetic and oil-based fabrics will still have a place, she said: “A strong synthetic material with a very long lifespan might be suitable for some applications, such as outerwear that requires little washing.”

It is therefore difficult to capture all of these compromises in a simple label on a garment.

“It’s very complicated,” Bigot said. “But we have to get the machine running.”

– Sustainable options –

By next spring, the French authority should compile the results of their test phase and pass them on to the legislature.

While many are welcoming the labels, activists say it should only be part of a broader crackdown on the fashion industry.

“It’s really good to put the emphasis on life cycle analysis, but we need to do something about it that goes beyond labels,” said Valeria Botta of the Environmental Coalition on Standards.

“The focus should be on setting clear product design rules to ban the worst products from the market, prohibiting the destruction of returned and unsold goods, and setting production limits,” she told AFP.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to struggle to find a sustainable option – that should be the default.”

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#France #planning #fashion #revolution #climate #brands

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