Today, Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Textiles and Fashion, explained that parliamentarians are considering implementing “financial incentives” to drive forward a new ethically conscious UK fashion industry.
Cameron MP spoke at a webinar today organised by the Whitehouse Consultancy, alongside Paola Masperi, founder of ethical fashion brand Mayamiko, Clare Lissaman, Director of Common Objective and Head of Oxfam Advisory Service and Dr Mark Sumner, lecturer in fashion sustainability at the University of Leeds. It was hosted by Chris Whitehouse, Chairman and Managing Director of the Whitehouse Consultancy.
The webinar was watched by sustainability representatives from fashion leaders including Fashion Revolution, ASOS, New Look, as well as industry organisations such as Compare Ethics, and parliamentarians.
Dr Lisa Cameron MP said:
“When we began the APPG on Textiles in 2019, it almost seemed that fashion and textiles were ignored by parliament. But we felt this was an important industry to connect with parliament. Part of this is about championing British fashion, but also to have beliefs in sustainability and the ethics that should underpin such a well-respected industry worldwide.
“We have an opportunity to ensure the UK fashion industry is expert lead, innovative and to reestablish manufacturing across the UK. We have had discussions with ministers is about legislation and financial implications for those businesses who don’t do the right thing as well as financial incentives for those that do. But there also needs to be some way of measuring that. We’re also discussing whether we could create a traffic light system to make ethical fashion standards simple for consumers to see, but these talks are all ongoing.”
Dr Mark Sumner, lecturer in fashion sustainability at the University of Leeds, said:
“This is a vital discussion given the scale of the global fashion industry which has all sorts of challenges in terms of ethics and environmental impacts. Legislation ensures there are consequences for not complying with ethical standards.
“Responsible brands have called for more legislation because we do not have a level playing field. Some brands engage with ethical management within their supply chains, whereas others do not engage at all. We have an opportunity to ensure legislation works with other aspects of culture to get a much greater acceptance of having an ethical supply chain for fashion.”
Clare Lissaman, Director of Common Objective and Head of Oxfam Advisory Service, said:
“Sustainability is increasingly becoming a must–have rather than a nice–to–have. We have seen huge growth and positive change in this industry, especially over recent years. But what has really changed without legislation? What have we really achieved? The level playing field does not exist. The more we can have legislative frameworks, the better. In the meantime, companies can create their own frameworks to make changes in their remit, which can make a real difference.”
Paola Masperi, founder of ethical fashion brand Mayamiko, said:
“Consumer activism can move mountains. But activism is not enough. Legislation alone is not enough. This can’t be addressed by a single set of legislations. It will involve stakeholders, representation, community organisation and much more.
“Shifting value in businesses is important. The industry must rethink its values. Investors focus on how much product you can shift. We need to value other things, like circulation, how widely you recycle and the ethics your business upholds. If we were to value these things then suddenly, my business becomes much more valuable and the incentives to be ethically aware increase.”
Chris Whitehouse, Chairman and Managing Director of the Whitehouse Consultancy, said:
“Legislation is important and ensures that individuals and small brands don’t pay the ultimate price for sustainability. Check where your products come from. Individuals and employers can do the same. We are due to find out this afternoon if Dominic Raab will impose sanctions on senior officials in Beijing for their human rights violations against Uyghurs, of which the fashion industry has become complicit. This might give us a good indication of how far ministers are willing to go.”
Please find the full webinar recording here: Trending in textiles – will new legislation bring human rights to the catwalk?
This webinar is part of Whitehouse’s human rights work and ongoing webinar series on many topical issues.
The Whitehouse team are expert political consultants providing public relations and public affairs advice and political analysis to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the Member States of the European Union and beyond. We work in a number of sectors including human rights and equalities. For more information, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at firstname.lastname@example.org.