France becomes world’s first country to legislate limits on fast fashion

The days of fast fashion may be coming to a close in France, if a new law passed on 15th March is as effective as hoped at striking blows on cheap mass producers by making their products less appealing to buyers. 

As the French clothing and accessories market, like so many others in Europe and elsewhere around the world, continues to be inundated with inexpensive imported items, the government has decided to take action with the passing of a new law borne from a concept put forwards by a 31-year-old member of the Les Républicains party, Antoine Vermorel-Marques. 

Vermorel-Marques is one of a number of French politicians who have spoken out against fast fashion. In a widely circulated clip posted on Tik Tok in February, he hit out at the damage that fast fashion brands are having on the environment as well as highlighting the potential dangers cheaply produced clothes, shoes and other accessories pose to human health, noting the extensive and unregulated use of chemicals in the production processes employed by brands such as Shein and Temu.  

@antoinevermorel42 🛑 Les vêtements à 2€ qui arrivent en avion, contiennent des substances nocives pour la santé et finissent sur les plages en Afrique, c’est non ! Je dépose à l’Assemblée nationale une proposition de loi pour instaurer un bonus-malus afin de pénaliser les marques et pour encourager les démarches plus vertueuses ♻️ #shein#sheinhaul#ecologie#fastfashion#stopshein#pourtoi#fyp @lookbookaly @menezangel_ @loufitlove @lila_drila @cilia.ghass @tifanywallemacq @veronika_cln @lia__toutcourt @iamm_mae.e@IAMM_MAE.E ♬ son original – antoinevermorel

Another concerning factor of fast fashion is the impact the industry is having on domestic French brands, which are finding themselves priced out of the market.  


In mid March, France became the first country in the world to go so far as to pass legislation “to limit the excesses of ultra-fast fashion”, as put by the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu.  

In the coming weeks and months, a decree listing the measures to be taken will be formalised. For now, it appears that these will include advertising bans on some of the worst offenders as well as an environmental surcharge of €5 per item. This is expected to rise gradually to €10 per item by 2030.  

According to the government, the proceeds from this tax will be used to financially help sustainable French producers, thus giving them a more competitive edge.


The government will also monitor the volumes of items produced as well as the rates of turnover from companies to help determine what can be deemed as fast fashion and what action should be taken.  


The draft law was formally submitted by Horizons, the centre-right party founded in 2021 by Edouard Philippe, which has publicly condemned the fast fashion industry as a serious polluter. 

The sector is blamed for 10% of the world’s total CO2 emissions and is known to be a major source of water pollution.  

Read related:

The cost of fast fashion: France to consider adding a dissuasive surcharge to cheap imported purchases


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Photo source: Sarah Brown, Unsplash