April 21, 2024

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Shein rebuffs ‘throwaway fashion culture’ blame as France ‘weighs’ fast-fashion tax

3 min read

According to French media reports, Antoine Vermorel-Marques, a lawmaker from the conservative Les Républicains party, introduced a draft of his fast fashion “kill bill” to the French National Assembly, proposing levying an additional €5 on “every fast-fashion purchase” to address environmental concerns and bolster support for the French textile industry.

This bill is aimed at supporting France’s ailing textile industry which has been hard hit by the country’s growing fast-fashion consumption.

France, a country which is home to some of the biggest fashion brands, is expected to debate Vermorel-Marques’ €5 proposed bill to curb fast fashion in the lower house of parliament over the next few months.

The French media platform France24 noted the formidable rise of fast fashion within France in recent years, signalling a potential threat to the future of many traditional and domestic fashion manufacturers.

While an array of brands fall within the fast fashion category, Vermorel-Marques specifically takes aim at Shein. He alleges that Shein introduces between 6,000 and 11,000 new offerings to its catalogue daily and frequently makes headlines for the environmental and social consequences of its “throw-away” business model, which he believes is “destroying” France’s textile industry.

But the proposed fast-fashion €5 levy is reportedly eliciting a mixed response in France with some calling it another tax that “penalises the poor” and limits their access to affordable and fashionable clothing.

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Cécile Désaunay, director of studies at Futuribles, a consultancy firm, told France24 the €5 penalty holds particular sensitivity “because it touches on what is considered the freedom to consume.”

She emphasised that the legislation aims not only to “punish” but also to “reward,” and would work as a bonus-penalty system that would make sustainable fashion more accessible to everyone. The MP had proposed in his suggestion a €5 reward per item of sustainable clothing purchased that was made in Europe.

She also argued fast-fashion is drawing people away from charities and other recycling centres that “are bursting at the seams with [used] clothes” adding that the number of clothes already on the planet would allow fo the dressing of humanity for another 100 years even if clothes were to stop being made.

Just Style reached out to Shein and a spokesperson for the company refuted the claim that it was fuelling a “throwaway” fashion culture, arguing its “on-demand business model addresses the fundamental problem of the mismatch between supply and demand of the traditional fashion industry model” and enables it to reduce unnecessary waste as well as offering good value for money to customers who want affordable and accessible fashion.

“We believe that the bill in its current shape and form does not address the environmental impact of fashion, yet would affect the purchasing power of French consumers, and we had a constructive dialogue with legislators earlier this week.

“We share their interest in promoting responsible supply chain management and in protecting the environment and believe that this requires collective efforts from all the stakeholders in the fashion industry.”

Elsewhere, Shein’s plans for a US IPO could be scuppered as it has come under scrutiny over its operations in Xinjiang. In addition to this, the company is facing a cybersecurity probe from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) as it is acquiring a US IPO.

Just Style recently also investigated how fashion brands will need to pay closer attention to any green product claims when new European Union (EU) laws come into force.



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