Following the launch of the Fashion CEO Agenda 20211 on 12 May, Global Fashion Agenda took a closer look at each of the five priorities set forth to discuss how policy potentially can support the further activation of each priority.
Increased awareness around the need to transition from linear to circular business models has led to numerous initiatives in recent years-both industry and policy driven. This complementary approach is the way forward: as shown in Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment Final Report
a voluntary approach can inspire action when it comes to circular design, collection, resale and recycling. Engaging with policy remains however key when it comes to tackling the remaining challenges outlined below and to incentivise mechanisms to scale circular fashion systems.
Policy Gaps & Opportunities
A significant proportion of garment workers operate in the informal economy and face increased vulnerability, often due to the lack of labour protection and health support for factory workers. COVID-19 affected these workers in particular, as there were no forms of protection available to them. This calls for strong governance structures, compliance and social protection schemes as part of compensation packages.
The conversation about wages in the fashion industry has to overcome its sensitivity for wages to move
away from a race to the bottom and to include additional benefits for workers such as support systems and healthcare. This emphasises the importance of equally fair wages supported by purchasing practices, ringfencing labour costs and excluding them from price negotiations. Policy makers can encourage brands to explore how improvements in areas such as purchasing, productivity, training, data implementation, freedom of association, collective bargaining and social dialogue can contribute to the establishment of improved wage systems and to investigate systems of wage setting, such as collective bargaining agreements.
In response to the pandemic, industry players and governments can support and extend wage and social
protection schemes through the period of lockdown, carefully consult plans to reopen factories to prioritise the safety of workers and ensure that garment workers are paid wages that meet their needs post-crisis. Governments can also play a vital role in developing policy frameworks, facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and leading by example in public procurement practices.
Focus of the discussion
All in all European policymakers are seemingly aware of the need to boost the sustainability performance of the sector and to address the challenges brought about by COVID-19 in light of the EU Textiles Strategy expected later in 2021 as well as of several other vertical measures announced by the EU´s 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan. Global Fashion Agenda is virtually gathering circularity experts to bring them the key industry frontrunners´ learnings so that all forthcoming policy actions ensure a set of coherent measures that truly support complexities around changing the linear model.
– Valérie Boiten, Senior Policy Officer, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
– Christos Kyriatzis, Senior Expert, Textile Clothing, Leather and Footwear. DG GROW. European Commission
– Jérôme Pero, SG of the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry- FESI on behalf of the Policy Hub- Circularity for Apparel and Footwear
– Harsh Saini, EVP Sustainability, Fung Group
– Rüdiger Fox, CEO Sympatex Technologies
– Moderator: Alice Kuhnke, MEP & chair of the EP Intergroup on the Green New Deal