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21st Mar 2024

Is France’s proposed fast fashion law actually sustainable?

Anna Martin

fast fashion france

A bill to curb the rise of fast fashion won unanimous approval in the lower house of the French Parliament

The vote makes France the first country in the world “legislating to limit the excesses of ultra-fast fashion” according to Christophe Bechu, minister for the ecological transition.

The measures still require a vote in the Senate before they become an everyday thing.

With this bill will come a number of stringent measures, including banning advertising for the most inexpensive textiles and imposing an environmental levy of €5 on purchases of fast-fashion products.

The bill specifically targets fast fashion giants, calling for companies to disclose their products’ environmental impact.

This move seeks to pivot the industry toward more sustainable practices, encouraging transparency and accountability.

fast fashion france
Credit: Getty

Yet there is another reason that is being talked about a lot less than the environment, the protection of the French fashion industry.

Though it hasn’t been explicitly stated by the Government, the bill passing came during the same week that President Emmanuel Macron hosted a party for LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, awarding him the Légion d’Honneur, France’s greatest civilian honour, in a private

Renowned for luxury brands such as LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and Chanel, the nation has seen its homegrown brands suffer due to stiff competition from fast fashion retailers like Zara, H&M, Shein and Temu.

Therefore it can be assumed that by imposing these measures, France intends to try and level the playing field for their own fashion houses.

Yet Shein has never taken the criticism lying down and has often argued that, unlike luxury brands, they keep the proportion of unsold garments very low.

This, they state contributes to reducing waste, something often spoken about when it comes to sustainability.

Top designer brands have been slammed for having billions of euros worth of unsold garments left at the end of the year.

fast fashion france
Credit: Getty

It’s not just fast fashion brands that aren’t too happy with the new build, some French people have questioned why they are being penalised for buying what they can afford.

“Fast fashion for some, the only way to dress for others,” one social media user wrote, while another stated, “I’m poor, but I have values, I don’t order from these sites! You can be poor and have values!”

Cécile Désaunay, director of studies at Futuribles, a consultancy firm that analyses transformative societal, lifestyle and consumption trends counter-argued that there are other ways to shop sustainably.

Speaking to France 24, she argued that you don’t have to turn to fast fashion to get new clothes, instead, you can go to charity shops.

Yet charity shopping offers both limited styles and often isn’t size inclusive. So, what is the real solution here?