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New York’s Push to More Tightly Regulate Fashion Lapses into Next Year

Senator Brad Hoylman urges legislature to pass the Fashion Workers Act before the session ends at a rally on May 27.
Senator Brad Hoylman urges legislature to pass the Fashion Workers Act before the session ends at a rally on May 27. (jaka vinsek)

New York State’s legislative session ended for the year in the early hours of Friday, with three key fashion industry bills not yet signed into law.

This year has seen a wave of regulatory pushes in New York from advocates in the fashion industry, with proposed bills covering a range of topics from chemical safety to labour protections for fashion models and creatives. It follows a landmark bill signed into law in California’s state senate last year, which clamped down on exploitative piece-rate pay in the state’s garment sector and pushed liability onto brands for poor practices in their California supply chains. A federal bill made in its image, dubbed the FABRIC Act, has since been introduced to US Congress.

In New York, a bill to prohibit apparel’s use of PFAS — a class of substances also known as “forever chemicals” that can pose serious health risks — is furthest along in the legislative process, having passed both the senate and assembly late last month. It now only needs approval by Governor Kathy Hochul.

The New York Fashion Act introduced in January this year would require companies with revenues of over $100 million doing business in New York to disclose environmental performance, climate target-setting and supply chain due diligence. But it is still several steps away from passing.

The Fashion Workers Act, announced by Model Alliance leader Sara Ziff in March, seeks to regulate the often exploitative practices of employment and payment for models and other creatives at the hands of agencies. Similar to the New York Fashion Act, it has yet to reach the senate and assembly floors.

The bills must now await next year’s session, due to commence in January, but lobbying to get them across the line in 2023 continues.

“The work doesn’t end just because the session ends,” said Maxine Bédat, director of New Standard Institute, a non-profit which spearheaded The Fashion Act. “The work continues in terms of building that consensus [among state senators], and getting it to a place … where it can be in a position to be passed.”

Learn more:

New York Fashion Act to Test Brands’ Appetite for Sustainability Regulation

Stella McCartney is among the backers of a new bill introduced in New York that could step up disclosure and due diligence requirements for brands operating in the key market.

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