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Something in the fashion supply chain is about to change

A new law in the States talks about minimum salaries and procurement programs for companies

Something in the fashion supply chain is about to change A new law in the States talks about minimum salaries and procurement programs for companies

While almost all consumer product sectors in the US have been subjected to strict regulation over the years, fashion has for long been an exception and workers have paid the price. Globally, the fashion industry's supply chain is complex: brands often use subcontracting and piecework contracts (some of which involve as little as $2 per hour wages) to circumvent labour laws. Now, almost seven months after the passage of California's landmark SB62 worker protection law and only four after the announcement of New York State's fashion bill, a new piece of legislation is on the way that will impact the industry for the first time at the federal level. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand revealed to Vogue that the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act, a bill that will extend SB62's anti-wage theft principles nationwide and offer incentives such as tax exemptions and subsidy programs for brands that decide to manufacture in the US, will be introduced in the Senate on 12 May.

Currently, 80% of garment workers worldwide are women, and despite the 40 million employees, only about 93,800 of these are in the United States. In New York's garment district, once the hub of the fashion industry, the workforce has declined alarmingly from 26,966 to 4,394 in the last 20 years alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To lift this critical situation, banning piecework tariffs could certainly make a difference, providing companies with enough incentive to bring production back to the US.

Job creation and upgrading in the apparel industry in the US and globally is more crucial than ever due to supply chain disruption, slowdowns and missed deliveries caused by Covid and the inability to meet shipping and production schedules. The weaknesses of the decentralization process that fashion has undergone over the years - with American companies preferring to establish their production part from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, while European states, including Italy, chose the nearer East Europe, between Romania and Albania, for their textile companies - came to the fore in the pandemic period. When the US had to rely on emergency imports, despite the fact that most products could be sourced domestically if only the infrastructure would allow it. The FABRIC Act would extend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, imposing liability obligations on brands that work with factories that pay less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour), but would also pave the way for a $40 million manufacturing support program for those wishing to upgrade their facilities and relocate them domestically, a substantial change that could serve as a model for all other countries, including our own.