France Is At The Forefront Of Sustainable Fashion

  • by Vivienne Austin

Paris has long been synonymous with fashion excellence, yet its ethical stance on clothing was not as prominent. However, recent developments have altered this perception. In fact, back in 2019, the city introduced 'Paris Good Fashion', aiming to transform Paris into a sustainable fashion hub by 2024. This initiative involves creating a collaborative network comprising 62 brands, manufacturers, media, and major fashion conglomerates working together towards a more sustainable industry. Consequently, the entire country is embracing this change. In fact, it is safe to assert that France is leading the European Union in paving the way for a sustainable fashion sector. Here’s why:

The Use Of Recycled Materials

In an industry that discards between 10,000 and 20,000 tons of products annually in France, numerous textile producers are at the forefront of creating eco-friendly, locally produced clothing and accessories. Their aim is to rejuvenate communities, stimulate the local economy, and encourage consumers to rethink their shopping habits.

The movement towards reusing local materials and minimising waste is part of a broader trend among French entrepreneurs to offer domestically made products. Just last year, approximately 450 textile businesses united to launch the Textile Valley project, with the objective of repatriating 1% of the country's total textile production.



For instance, La Vie Est Belle, a textile manufacturer, repurposes old sheets to craft men's and women's underwear, offers a DIY kit for customers to create their own undergarments, and even transforms old bicycle tires into belts.


Junk Kouture provides a stage for teenagers in France to unleash their creativity and embrace sustainable fashion. Teens design their own fashion pieces using 100% recycled materials. The outcomes go from nespresso pods, plastic bottles, orange peels, sea glass, and other discarded items that get skillfully crafted into stunning designs suitable for the runway. Open to teenagers aged 13-18, participants compete to earn funds for their education and the opportunity to showcase their impressive creations in front of cheering crowds.


Another innovator in recycling materials into textiles is Benjamin Benmoyal, a graduate of Central Saint Martins in London (just like our founder!). Benmoyal delved into pioneering methods for utilising sustainable fabrics after his studies. He merged his existing knowledge with fresh perspectives to introduce a brand dedicated to entirely revamped fabrics crafted from old cassette tapes! By blending video cassette tapes with threads, he develops his unique fabrics, boasting voluminous and shapely collections to cater to diverse tastes.


The New Repair Scheme



France, well-known for its fashion expertise, initiated a repair renaissance last year. A novel national incentive program is promoting sustainable fashion by motivating consumers to repair clothing and footwear rather than purchasing new items. Beginning in October 2023, customers can receive a direct subsidy of €6 to €25 per repair, funded by the state's €154 million special fund.

All repairs must be conducted by a certified mender or cobbler affiliated with Refashion, the eco-organisation behind the initiative. The foundation of the scheme lies in raising public awareness about the detrimental impact of fast fashion, with the hope that this will lead to a shift in how shoppers maintain their clothing and treat their clothing. The goal is to put a stop to our fashion throw-away culture.


The Fast Fashion Charge

France is now on the brink of another significant milestone in the global fight against fast fashion, all thanks to French MP Antoine Vermorel Marques's bold proposition. In fact, he suggested a €5 surcharge on each fast fashion item sold, that could represent a significant step towards bringing about real change in response to the environmental and social harm caused by ultra-fast fashion, driven by major players like SHEIN and Temu. This proposal, part of France's broader legislative efforts led by the centre-right Horizons Group, aims to tip the balance in favour of "made in France" products over "made in China" goods.

Beyond the surcharge, this strategy holds promise in effectively addressing the unsustainable world of fast fashion. In theory, this approach might prompt companies like SHEIN to contemplate relocating some of their distribution centres or manufacturing operations closer to local markets. Such a move could stimulate local economies, inadvertently raise production standards, enhance social welfare, and promote greater transparency in the supply chain.

Should other nations take similar steps? We think they should! Introducing a similar tax in Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and other countries could enhance the influence, propelling the entire continent towards a more sustainable fashion future and aligning with the EU's Green Deal objectives.

The UK, on the other hand, is not doing much to protect independent brands and neither it is doing anything to stop the country from being flooded with cheap chemical infused clothing from fast fashion brands like Shein. In fact, chancellor Jeremy Hunt is even trying to convince firm Shein to list its shares in London, even with all the forced labour allegations.

The €5 tax is another signifying moment for France, a country that is really putting effort into strengthening and safeguarding its fashion industry. Of course, the journey towards meaningful, structural transformation extends far beyond this and we can’t wait what other measures this and other EU countries will take.

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