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Slow Fashion Caucus

Press Release |  Founding Caucus Members  |  Caucus Principles  |  Endorsing Organizations  |  Supportive Statements  |  In the News

The fashion industry is responsible for more carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. That's why I am launching the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus to create climate-smart policies to reduce, repair, rewear, and recycle textiles.  

On July 27, 2024, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), ranking member of the House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee, alongside Reps. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), announced the first-ever Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus to curb fast fashion pollution through climate-smart policies. The Members were joined by sustainable fashion industry leaders and stakeholders, including Patagonia, thredUp, the Garment Worker Center, and more for the launch event and press conference on Capitol Hill.

Watch the official launch of Congress's first-ever Slow Fashion Caucus 



Founding members of the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus

Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine, Chair), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii).

The Slow Fashion Caucus's Principles to Support a Circular Economy for Textiles

Incentivize apparel industry to promote reuse, repair, and recycling of textiles
While the apparel industry is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they also have the power to be part of the solution, and some are starting to take action. Public policy, such as incentives for secondhand purchases or participation in rental models, can make it easier for companies and consumers to do the right thing for the environment.

Develop “circular economy” policies to drive the apparel industry to reduce natural resource consumption
A circular economy prevents products such as textiles from becoming waste and keeps materials in circulation by designing products that can be reused, repaired, and recycled. 

Promote textile reuse and recycling infrastructure
Existing systems and infrastructure for the collection, reuse, and recycling of used textiles are not well established and do not support consistent, convenient, or widespread collection of the quantity and quality of textiles needed to retain value and support economical reuse and recycling. 

Build public awareness of fast fashion’s environmental impact
Additional education is needed on the negative impacts of fast fashion and opportunities to support a circular economy for textiles.
Bring textile production back to the USA
As global trends have impacted the economics of producing textiles and apparel outside the U.S., and as consumer demand for more sustainably produced products has risen, there is a need to bring more textile and apparel production stages back to the U.S.

Support the use of more sustainable fibers 
Reducing the use of virgin materials and using more plant and animal-based fibers, such as cotton, flax, hemp, wool, and alpaca, may decrease environmental impacts.

Expand initiatives across federal agencies to encourage textile sustainability
President Biden is building a whole-of-government approach to reach the goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emission by 50–52% from 2005 levels by 2030 and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Existing government efforts can be further leveraged to curb fast fashion and promote sustainability. 
Click here to learn more about how I am working to curb fast fashion pollution.

Slow Fashion Caucus Endorsing Organizations

  • American Sheep Industry Association
  • Pennsylvania Fibershed
  • Apparel Impact
  • Remake
  • American Circular Textiles
  • Fibershed
  • Climate Reality Project
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders
  • Industrial Commons
  • Goodwill of Northern New England
  • Patagonia
  • thredUp
  • Garment Worker Center
  • Helpsy
  • Kelly Dempsey
  • Accelerating Circularity
  • Custom Collaborative
  • The RealReal
  • L.L. Bean
  • Fibers Fund
  • TS Designs

ACT (American Circular Textiles): "American Circular Textiles coalition’s mission is to stand up responsible U.S. policy to support textile circularity and eliminate waste. Textiles affect nearly every sector and durable,  cohesive Federal policy is critical to unlocking the economic, job, and environmental  opportunities that our industry provides through robust reuse, repair, recycling, innovation and consumer education initiatives. The Slow Fashion Caucus is an important step in coalescing comprehensive Federal policy around the many opportunities and challenges facing industry and consumers."

Alon Rotem, Chief Legal Officer of ThredUp: “There is a dire need for public policy to help us accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future, just like it has for energy and vehicles. The launch of the Slow Fashion Caucus gives us a powerful new platform to forge ahead. We look forward to working with like-minded organizations and policymakers to advance the fashion policy agenda, change incentive structures to benefit our shared planet and resources, and ultimately create a more sustainable fashion future for generations to come."

Phyllis Cuttino, CEO of The Climate Reality Project: “I commend Congresswoman Pingree for launching the Slow Fashion Caucus, which aims to raise public awareness about this issue and advance smart policies to make it easier for consumers and industry to take steps to reduce fast fashion’s very real and significant carbon footprint.”

Daisy Gonzalez, Campaigns Director, Garment Worker Center"The Garment Worker Center (GWC) applauds Congresswoman Pingree’s effort to establish a Slow Fashion Caucus to push forward policies that move the needle towards a responsible and ethical fashion industry. GWC organizes alongside US garment workers, primarily in California, the largest garment production hub in the United States, to transform the garment industry, eliminate sweatshop labor, and hold brands accountable for the social and environmental issues they create. The slow fashion movement must include the needs of sustainable brands and American garment workers of which there are 100,000 today. It’s due time for US policy that invests in workers, responsible business, and combats fast fashion. Fast fashion relies on cheap manufacturing to produce trendy, inexpensive, short lived garments that end up in landfills. Cheap manufacturing, more often than not, goes hand in hand with labor rights violations and wage theft. We look forward to engaging with the Slow Fashion Caucus on pivotal initiatives involving ethical labor, domestic manufacturing, sustainability, and environmental responsibility."

Emily Stochl, Remake Vice President of Advocacy & Community Engagement: 
"Remake commends Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) for launching the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus and for outlining these stated principles, particularly the aim of bringing textile production back to the U.S. We must create a 'race to the top' on responsible business, and level the playing field for domestic manufacturers. There is an estimated $5 billion global market for responsibly-produced apparel developing, and – with proper investment – an opportunity to create technology-oriented, high-value domestic jobs. The ability to access these economic returns will require policy that creates an environment where responsible business can compete and thrive, and labor rights provisions that reflect the U.S. government’s core values and labor standards are upheld."

Joe Whitten, CEO and Co-founder of Apparel Impact: "At Apparel Impact, we believe that sustainability is the key to a better future, and we're proud to stand with Congresswoman Pingree and the Slow Fashion Caucus. We believe this initiative will go a long way toward reducing textile waste and promoting sustainable practices in the fashion industry."

Leslie Davidson, Co-Founder, Pennsylvania Fibershed: "As advocates for sustainability, circularity and ethical practices within the fashion industry, Pennsylvania Fibershed wholeheartedly endorses the establishment of the Slow Fashion Caucus. In a fast-fashion dominated world, it's essential to support initiatives that prioritize environmental responsibility, fair labor practices, local job creation, circular economy principles, domestic manufacturing and the preservation of cultural heritage in garment production. Establishing a Slow Fashion Caucus would provide a vital platform for policymakers, industry leaders, and activists to collaborate on implementing policies and practices that promote a more sustainable and equitable fashion ecosystem. By fostering dialogue, raising awareness, and driving meaningful change, the caucus can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of fashion towards a more ethical, mindful, and resilient industry both here in the U.S. and abroad."

American Apparel & Footwear Association: “AAFA welcomes Representative Pingree’s efforts to elevate conversations about textile, apparel, and footwear circularity policy in Congress. We are a global industry with global impact, and sustainability solutions are going to require global effort and coordination too. It is imperative that the United States approach this work through a Federal lens, drawing upon the efforts already underway— by stakeholders across the industry and policy community — to ensure a consolidated, coordinated, and practical federal response to support and accelerate our shared work.”

Heather Podoll, Fibershed Partnerships and Advocacy Coordinator: "The Slow Fashion Caucus launched by Rep. Chellie Pingree is poised to address critical issues facing our textile and fashion industries, while offering proven solutions with abundant environmental, economic and social benefits. We are excited for this Caucus to help coordinate action across federal agencies and programs supporting a fashion and textile system that reduces pollution and waste, protects communities and workers, uplifts climate-smart agriculture and domestic natural fiber producers, and builds economic opportunities through domestic textile processing and manufacturing."

Tripp Harrison, President and CEO, Goodwill Northern New England: "Goodwill Northern New England is incredibly grateful to Congresswoman Pingree for launching the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus to create policies to reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle textiles. Fast fashion takes an incredible toll on our planet. Reuse must be a major part of the solution. Keeping a circular economy is an up-spiral of good. When people donate to their local Goodwill those items stay local and out of landfills; and the revenue created goes directly back into Goodwill's workforce programs which upskill Mainers into in-demand jobs at local businesses. When we donate and shop secondhand we help the Earth and our neighbors. Rep. Pingree's work to raise awareness and affect policy on these issues is essential."

Karla Magruder, Accelerating Circularity Founder and President: "Accelerating Circularity is a nonprofit, action-oriented, ‘do-tank’, that brings stakeholders from across the supply chain together to close the loop on textile-to-textile recycling. Through commercial scale production trials, we have tested numerous circular textile models and discovered viable pathways to building scalable circular systems. The Slow Fashion Caucus represents an important step on the path to circularity for the American textile industry, and inspires us to collaborate further to reach our goals. Materials outlast products; by recycling used textiles into new raw materials, we can lower the textile industry’s GHG emissions, reduce the use of virgin materials, and create positive social impacts."

Leslie Davidson, Co-Founder, Pennsylvania Fibershed: "As advocates for sustainability, circularity and ethical practices within the fashion industry, Pennsylvania Fibershed wholeheartedly endorses the establishment of the Slow Fashion Caucus. In a fast-fashion dominated world, it's essential to support initiatives that prioritize environmental responsibility, fair labor practices, local job creation, circular economy principles, domestic manufacturing and the preservation of cultural heritage in garment production. Establishing a Slow Fashion Caucus would provide a vital platform for policymakers, industry leaders, and activists to collaborate on implementing policies and practices that promote a more sustainable and equitable fashion ecosystem. By fostering dialogue, raising awareness, and driving meaningful change, the caucus can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of fashion towards a more ethical, mindful, and resilient industry both here in the US and abroad."

Sarah Kelley, Managing Director, Fibers Fund: "Congresswoman Pingree's launch of the Slow Fashion Caucus is a critical contribution to a more sustainable future for the fiber and textile industry. At the Fibers Fund, we are focused on providing catalytic financing to support small U.S. natural fiber and textile producers and processors, with a specific focus on equity and justice. These farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs are working hard to bring textile production back to the U.S. and provide better alternatives to the current fast fashion industry, but they need stronger awareness and support from a range of government agencies. The Slow Fashion Caucus will play a pivotal role in coordinating efforts to address the current global industry's outsized carbon emissions, wasteful production practices, and disproportionate impact on communities of color. Together with our founding partners Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders and Fibershed, our Advisory Council, and the entrepreneurs we serve, we look forward to supporting Congresswoman Pingree’s efforts and engaging in collaborative action towards an equitable and regenerative textile industry." 

American Apparel & Footwear Association: “AAFA welcomes Representative Pingree’s efforts to elevate conversations about textile, apparel, and footwear circularity policy in Congress. We are a global industry with global impact, and sustainability solutions are going to require global effort and coordination too. It is imperative that the United States approach this work through a Federal lens, drawing upon the efforts already underway— by stakeholders across the industry and policy community — to ensure a consolidated, coordinated, and practical federal response to support and accelerate our shared work.”

Bert Barnes, Director of Sustainability, The RealReal: "As fast fashion amplifies the climate impacts of the fashion industry, The RealReal recognizes the critical importance of circularity in combating this growing crisis. Since 2011, The RealReal has been a solution to fast fashion, fostering a more sustainable future for both the planet and the fashion industry. We believe the launch of the Slow Fashion Caucus is a pivotal moment for apparel and textile circularity in the US. The RealReal is excited to support the Caucus, its members, and our industry peers in the pursuit of a better future for fashion."

Kelly Dempsey, Sustainable Fashion Designer and Project Runway Season 14 Runner-Up: "As a sustainable fashion designer and advocate, I wholeheartedly support Congresswoman Pingree's launch of the Slow Fashion Caucus. This initiative is crucial for promoting sustainable practices in the fashion industry and reducing textile waste. By encouraging upcycling and conscious consumer choices, we can significantly mitigate the environmental impacts of fast fashion. The Caucus will play a vital role in shaping policies that support responsible business practices and environmental stewardship."

Ngozi Okaro, Executive Director, Custom Collaborative: "Custom Collaborative supports the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus's efforts to tackle the immense waste in the fashion industry. As a non-profit dedicated to teaching the art and business of fashion through the lens of sustainability, we see firsthand how current practices disproportionately harm marginalized communities and the planet. Effective policy is critical to create and advance meaningful change. Businesses must be incentivized to create durable and circular lifecycles for their garments. By championing legislation that promotes these incentives, we can pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable future in the fashion industry, ensuring that all communities benefit from this progress."

 

The Slow Fashion Caucus In the News




TeenVOGUE: Inside the Slow Fashion Congressional Caucus The Washington Post: Can Congress break our addiction to fast fashion?

Bloomberg: Fast Fashion’s Climate Impact Spurs New Democratic Caucus

E&E: Dems launch caucus on fashion’s climate, waste impacts

Portland Press Herald: Pingree, other lawmakers draw attention to fast fashion’s toll on the environment


MainePublic: U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree warns about the impacts of fast fashion industry

NEWS CENTER Maine: Rep. Pingree announces effort to curb pollution by slowing down 'fast fashion'

Ecotextile News: Slow Fashion Caucus launched in US Congress

WGME: Congresswoman launches Slow Fashion Caucus to combat fast fashion's environmental toll

Sourcing Journal: 
Members of Congress Launch Slow Fashion Caucus, Highlighting Circularity
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