Brands are joining calls for President Biden to appoint a "Fashion Czar" after a journalist made a powerful case for the new position. Elizabeth Segran, senior staff writer at Fast Company, has urged the new administration to install a high-level policy adviser to hold the fashion industry accountable for its human rights violations and environmental impact.
Segran argued that a fashion czar could ensure that the industry would finally be regulated like other big sectors. Now, academics, sustainable brands, and journalists across the internet are co-signing the letter, reflecting a growing acknowledgment of the crisis at hand and the need for governmental intervention.
“Individual brands can only do so much, and I’m a little bit tired of hearing the same story over and over that they’re trying to push things in the right direction when at a global level we’re confronting climate change, we’re seeing all of these microplastics end up in the ocean. These are enormous consequences that the fashion industry is wreaking havoc on the world,” she wrote.
Segran made the case that a fashion czar could advocate for Congress to pass laws that would hold brands accountable for labor violations that take place across their supply chains and incentivize companies to come up with creative technologies that would tackle pollution. She contended that the "czar could transform America into a global hub of sustainable and humane fashion, ensuring it stays a thriving part of the economy."
Everlane, ThredUp, Rebecca Minkoff, Allbirds, Reformation, Mara Hoffman, Cuyana, Aday, Clove, The Big Favorite, Amendi, and Solgaard have signed the letter, signaling their commitment to humane labor and environmentally sound practices in an industry that has remained largely unregulated compared to other big polluters including the automotive manufacturing and energy.
So what would a fashion czar do exactly?
Segran points to the Biden administration’s climate czars and COVID-19 czar in her appeal. Much like these new cabinet-level appointments, the fashion czar would be responsible for championing the White House’s agenda in discussions with Congress as well as federal agencies, specifically the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor.
The Fashion Czar would remove the onus from individual brands by pursuing regulation and "persuading Congress to pass laws that curb the industry’s negative impact on the environment and workers while encouraging businesses to come up with innovative solutions that tackle these problems."
Governments around the world are increasingly acknowledging their vital role in regulating the fashion industry. Segran notes that in France, "the ministry of ecological and inclusive transition, has made it her personal mission to focus on the fashion industry’s footprint" and in Hong Kong, the government is heavily investing in sustainable solutions for the industry.
A Biden-appointed fashion czar could champion policies such as banning brands from destroying unsold products and making microplastic filters mandatory in industrial washing machines and funding research that could curb fashion's damaging environmental impact.
Read Elizabeth Segran's piece, President Biden, appoint a fashion czar! for a breakdown of how the United States could become the leader in a global movement toward a better fashion industry.