“Right now, companies aren’t competitive if they do the right thing,” said Maxine Bédat, founder of the New Standard Institute, in a call earlier this week. “This is not a framework for success. By making these regulations the bedrock of business, every business will have to comply and every business will have to do the right thing. Of course, they can go beyond that and show leadership in other ways as well. “
Will executives and designers balk at these demands after decades of little government oversight? A few might. But Bedat described the bill as inherently business-friendly in that it level the playing field. Stella McCartney is the first designer to approve the law, and many of her peers have spoken of the need for a better regulation and better incentives. “We expect the industry to buy into this because they have said how much they care about sustainability,” Bédat said. “It’ll really clear things up if the industry is just talking talk or if they’re really ready to take action. “
As the bill is introduced in New York State, the significant size of the New York City market will effectively force brands around the world to comply. Bedat compared the deployment to energy efficiency standards adopted by California a few years ago, which set off a chain reaction for automakers around the world and spurred opportunities for electric car makers like Tesla. “It’s a very relevant parallel, because like fashion, Tesla is sexy and up-and-coming,” adds Bédat. “We need to make sure we’re making clothes for the future and business models for the future, and not just talking about it. “
Likewise, it was last March that McCartney highlighted the UK’s 2030 ban on fossil-fueled vehicles, saying it would speed up the country’s shift to electric cars and green energy. The fashion equivalent, according to McCartney, would introduce tax incentives that encourage brands to use faux leather; at present, these materials are often subject to higher import tax than animal leather. “We need policy changes. It’s not just about the physical product, it’s about working hand in hand with people who can protect it for the future, ”she said.
Legislation can take years, but Bédat hopes the bill will be passed by the end of the 2021 legislative session in June. Today starts the campaign. Over the next six months, we’ll be monitoring to see which brands and industry players support it. “We talk about fashion innovation all the time,” she says, “but this is the kind of regulatory innovation that could advance the work that needs to be done and the collaboration that needs to happen. “