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France’s Lower House Votes To Limit ‘excesses’ Of Fast Fashion With Environmental Surcharge

France’s lower house of parliament has backed a string of measures to make low-cost fast fashion, especially items from Chinese mass producers, less attractive to buyers.

Thursday’s vote makes France the first country in the world “legislating to limit the excesses of ultra fast fashion”, said Christophe Bechu, minister for the ecological transition. The measures still require a vote in the Senate.

Key measures include a ban on advertising for the cheapest textiles, and an environmental charge on low-cost items.

The French clothes market has been flooded with cheap imported clothes, while several homegrown brands have declared bankruptcy.

But the main arguments put forward by Horizons – the party allied to President Emmanuel Macron submitting the draft law – were environmental.

“Textile is the most polluting industry,” said Horizons deputy Anne-Cecile Violland, adding that the sector accounted for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and was a major polluter of water.

France will apply criteria such as volumes of clothes produced and turnover speed of new collections in determining what constitutes fast fashion, according to the law.

Violland noted Chinese company Shein and its “7,200 new clothing items a day” was a prime example of intensive fashion production.

Once the law comes into force precise criteria will be published in a decree.

Fast fashion producers will be forced to inform consumers about the environmental impact of their output.

A surcharge linked to fast fashion’s ecological footprint of €5 (£4.20) an item is planned from next year, rising to €10 by 2030. The charge cannot, however, exceed 50% of an item’s price tag.

Violland said the proceeds from the charge would be used to subsidise producers of sustainable clothes, allowing them to compete more easily.

A measure to limit advertising for fast fashion was also approved, although conservative lawmaker Antoine Vermorel-Marques said “a ban on advertising for textiles, especially fashion, spells the end of fashion”.

An initiative brought by leftwing and Green party deputies to include minimum penalties for producers breaking the rules as well as import quotas and stricter workplace criteria in the industry into the new law was struck down.

High-end fashion is a cornerstone of the French economy thanks to leading global luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Dior and Cartier.

But the French lower-end fashion segment has lost ground to European rivals Zara, H&M and, more recently, to Chinese behemoths Shein and Temu.

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