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France Votes to Crack Down on Fast Fashion’s ‘Excesses’

By Jake Beardslee · March 15, 2024

In brief…

  • France passed a law penalizing ultra-fast fashion with bans on cheap clothing ads and environmental surcharges
  • Targets brands like Shein making high volumes of low-cost, disposable garments
  • Charges start at €5 per item, rising to €10 by 2030, to subsidize sustainable labels
  • Aims to rein in textile industry's massive pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
France became the first country to legislate against environmentally-destructive fast fashion practices by banning ads for cheap clothing and imposing surcharges to fund sustainable producers.  Rio Lecatompessy/Unsplash

French lawmakers have voted to crack down on the fast fashion industry, especially low-cost clothing from Chinese mass producers like Shein. The new measures aim to make low-cost, environmentally-damaging fast fashion less appealing to consumers.

As Christophe Bechu, the minister for the ecological transition, said, the new law aims toward “legislating to limit the excesses of ultra fast fashion,” according to France 24. Key aspects of the law include banning ads for the cheapest textiles and imposing an environmental charge on inexpensive clothing items.

The push was driven by concerns over fast fashion’s massive pollution footprint. As deputy Anne-Cecile Violland of the Horizons party explained, “Textile is the most polluting industry.”

Once the law receives Senate approval, fast fashion brands will face criteria like production volumes and garment turnover speed to determine if surcharges apply. A per-item charge starting at €5 and rising to €10 by 2030 is planned, with proceeds subsidizing sustainable clothing makers.

Proponents of the law contend that these regulations are crucial for bringing the unconstrained fast fashion sector under control. According to Violland, the legislation will enable manufacturers of sustainable apparel to compete on a more level playing field.