How would a fashion czar influence our current fashion system?
Written by: Karynsa Teel
Graphic by: Emma Bunch
In early February, Elizabeth Segran, who works for Fast Company, wrote an article asking President Biden to appoint a fashion czar. When the article gained traction, it spurred Hilary Jochmans, a political consultant who specializes in sustainable fashion, to write a formal letter to the Biden Administration asking them to consider creating a ‘fashion caucus.’ This letter, which was cosigned by about seventy fashion brands, including Allbirds, Everlane, and Eileen Fisher, with more signing on every day, is said to have been delivered during the week of February 22, 2021.
So, what exactly would a fashion czar, or fashion caucus do? Well, quite a bit. This group of people would work with global governments to better regulate aspects of the fashion industry. Some of the most important aspects include working to lessen the impact of environmental degradation and human labor issues, problems that run rampant in major manufacturing countries.
While it is imperative to fix these two issues quickly, appointing a fashion czar or fashion caucus could potentially offer a solution to another main problem often worried about among American citizens: the economy. As more sustainable brands steer towards re-shoring, bringing manufacturing processes back home, there are more opportunities for manufacturing plants to open here. Although it is unlikely America will ever produce the same amount of garments as we did in the ’60s, before the offshoring boom, we could still potentially produce a lot of textiles. We already have a lot of infrastructures that could be used as textile mills, so the cost to refurbish existing infrastructure would be considerably less than if we were to build everything from scratch. Additionally, America already produces a significant amount of the world’s cotton, so shipping cotton to textile mills located here would also help to cut down on air pollution. The last, and most significant factor, is the amount of jobs these textile mills could bring - and I’m talking green jobs. Since these mills would be regulated by the fashion caucus, their sustainability requirements would hopefully be on par with the newly proposed Green New Deal, although this legislation isn’t yet passed.
The appointment of a fashion czar and/or caucus also calls to question to role politics will now play within the fashion industry. Seeing designers take political stands is nothing new, and this was only enforced as several made political statements regarding the 2020 election. However, creating a fashion caucus will allow for people with fashion industry experience to create guidelines instead of the usual political players, who may or may not have any experience with the inner-workings of the fashion industry.
This then begs the question of what this could mean for fashion industry hopefuls. Has a new career path just been made available to us, one that meshes politics, economics, and fashion? If so, what would these new skills and requirements look like and where can I sign up?