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Pressure mounts on President Biden to appoint a fashion czar




If the idea of ​​a “fashion czar” sounds like a joke, you may soon be in the minority. It’s an idea that is gaining traction and is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a story asking President Biden to appoint a “fashion czar” to support the fashion industry’s efforts to become more sustainable and more human. Hilary Jochmans, a political consultant who spent 15 years in politics and specializes in sustainable fashion, read the story and decided to turn it into an official letter. The letter, which will be delivered to the White House and members of Congress this week, was co-signed by more than 70 fashion experts, organizations and brands, including ThredUp, Eileen Fisher, Everlane and Allbirds. Others continue to add their names to the list.

Related: President Biden, Name A Fashion Czar!

Jochmans, founder of the consulting firm Politically in fashion, says the concept resonated with her because it gave voice to ideas that have been bubbling up in the sustainable fashion community for some time: that the government must address the immediate harm the industry is causing to the planet and human beings. She points out that over the past century, presidents have deployed czars to deal with crises ranging from the preparation for World War I to the AIDS epidemic. These people coordinated the different parts of the government in order to put in place rapid action. “The Czars were high-level advisers responsible for dealing with immediate crises,” she says. “The call for a ‘fashion czar’ makes sense because it suggests that this is a current crisis that must be addressed immediately using a multifaceted approach.

After I wrote the letter, word spread about it in the sustainable fashion community, quickly turning into a grassroots movement. Some sustainable fashion journalists signed up and articles were published everywhere Everyday women’s clothing at GQ at The hill. Numerous companies have joined as well, from eco-friendly brands like Aday and Cuyana to big names like Rebecca Minkoff and Timberland.

When the Fast company As the article first circulated on social media, some pointed out that President Biden currently has a number of pressing issues on his plate, including COVID-19 and the economy. Jochmans understands this prospect, but points out that things tend to happen slowly in Washington, so it’s important to put him on the president’s radar now. In the meantime, she wants the letter to inspire members of Congress to create a “fashion caucus” to advocate for more sustainable and humane practices in the fashion industry and to lobby the White House for a Czar. . Jochmans, who worked in politics on Capitol Hill and in New York state, says there was a similar caucus five years ago, but it ultimately disappeared.

For now, the goal is to continue to mobilize support from elected officials and the fashion industry so that the Biden administration realizes how crucial it is to have someone in the White House. dedicated to fashion issues. Then, if that effort proves convincing, it would be fairly straightforward for President Biden to create a fashion czar. The president has a lot of freedom when it comes to appointing advisers; he would not have to go through Congress to create such a position.

For years, sustainability-conscious fashion brands have been doing their part to reduce the industry’s negative environmental impact, but there is a growing awareness that individual efforts are not going to dent a global problem as well. vast. ThredUp, for example, has digitized savings, but even though the company now has warehouses in multiple football fields that process millions of items of clothing every day, there is a lot more clothing that ends up in landfills.

Elizabeth Cline, who has been reporting on the environmental and human impact of the fashion industry for a decade, believes the legislation could solve some of these problems. France has passed a law that, by 2023, will make it illegal to destroy unsold consumer products by companies, requiring brands to donate, reuse or recycle these products. This is particularly relevant for the fashion industry, where luxury and fast mode brands are known to burn millions of dollars in unsold clothing. “In some ways, Europe is ahead of the United States,” says Cline. “But the Biden administration now has a chance to catch up.”

But a fashion czar wouldn’t just focus on regulating the fashion industry; this person would also be responsible for ensuring that fashion remains a thriving part of the US economy. Since the late 1980s, fashion manufacturing has been outsourced to countries like China and Bangladesh, where labor is cheaper. This manufacturing is unlikely to return, but Cline says textile factories could. Right now, several tech companies are focusing on fabric recycling, and when ready to move forward, US factories could turn those recycled fibers into fabrics. “The government could help create green jobs in the fashion industry,” Cline says. “It could be part of the country’s economic recovery.”

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