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US congress launches Slow Fashion Caucus

By Rachel Douglass


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Image illustrating the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). Created using an artificial intelligence (AI) tool. Credits: FashionUnited

Members of US congress have come together to create the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus, through which they hope to introduce “climate-smart politics to reduce, repair, rewear and recycle textiles”.

The caucus was founded by district of Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Washington district’s Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and California's Sydney Kamlager-Dove, who have been backed by major players active in the sustainable fashion industry, including Patagonia, ThredUp, Remake and The RealReal.

Together, their goal is to curb waste and pollution from the fast fashion industry, making it the first US caucus dedicated to such a mission.

“As lawmakers, we can create incentives for the fashion industry and consumers to reduce natural resource consumption and engage in reusing, repairing, rewearing and recycling textiles,” Pingree said in a speech at Capitol Hill on the launch of the caucus.

She continued: “This could include policies that make it easier to rewear clothing (...) or renting rather than purchasing an outfit (...). We also have to support textile reuse and recycling infrastructure to better collect and manage discarded textiles (...).

“So much of the fashion that is purchased by Americans comes from countries with fewer protections for workers and for the environment. That’s why we must bring sustainable fibre and textile production and processing back to the US. We can invest in well-paying American jobs to produce clothes with smaller environmental footprints (...).”

Local production, rewear incentives and recycling infrastructure among plans

Among the proposals of the caucus, and alongside the aforementioned possibility of introducing incentivisation initiatives and returning to more local production methods, those supporting the cause said they want to develop “circular economy” policies akin to those in the EU, promote textile reuse infrastructure and build on public awareness.

In addition to this, Pingree also noted the intention to expand initiatives across federal agencies to further encourage textile sustainability, contributing to the government’s mission of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030.

The caucus was welcomed by a number of fashion industry representatives, including the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which said it welcomed Pingree’s efforts to “elevate conversations” surrounding circular policies in congress.

The organisation’s statement continued: “We are a global industry with global impact, and sustainability solutions are going to require global effort and coordination too. It is imperative that the US approach this work through a Federal lens, drawing upon the efforts already underway – by stakeholders across the industry and policy community – to ensure a consolidated, coordinated, and practical federal response to support and accelerate our shared work.”

Chief legal officer of ThredUp, Alon Rotem, also offered words of encouragement, adding: “There is a dire need for public policy to help us accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future, just like it has for energy and vehicles. The launch of the Slow Fashion Caucus gives us a powerful new platform to forge ahead.

“We look forward to working with like-minded organisations and policymakers to advance the fashion policy agenda, change incentive structures to benefit our shared planet and resources, and ultimately create a more sustainable fashion future for generations to come."

Sustainable Fashion