France Makes an Aggressive Push Against 'Fast Fashion'

Rebate program will offer up to $28 to fix clothes, shoes instead of buying new, but some are wary
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2023 2:10 PM CDT
France to Help Its People Pay to Mend Their Clothes
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Thomas Northcut)

Don't toss those ripped jeans or that shirt missing a button just yet, at least not if you live in France. That's because starting in October, the French government will be offering what's essentially a rebate to people who mend their own clothes and shoes instead of throwing them out and buying brand-new items, reports the BBC. Under the program that will be managed by eco-group Refashion, consumers will be eligible to receive up to around $28 per repair, whether it's a broken heel or a torn lining in a jacket.

"The goal is to support those who carry out repairs," says Berangere Couillard, France's secretary of state for ecology, adding that money for the repairs will come from a $172 million fund that's been allotted for the next five years, per the Guardian. She also urges "all sewing workshops and shoemakers to join the system," as only repairs done at participating vendors are eligible for the rebates. The initiative is part of a larger push in France against the waste of "fast fashion" in favor of more sustainable attire.

Couillard points the finger especially at fast-fashion companies like Chinese giant Shein, which she names as a prime culprit, per the Telegraph. She calls Shein "destructive for our planet, for the human conditions of the countries that host their production, and also destructive for the textile sector, which may not recover." More than 770,000 tons of clothing are dumped each year in France, with two-thirds of that ending up in landfills. Starting in January, clothing manufacturers in France will also have to adhere to new labeling guidelines that require listing environmental impacts of production, including how much water and chemicals were used to make their wares.

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Not everyone is enthusiastic about the new repair rebates. Business groups say that the messaging of the program could end up "stigmatizing" the French fashion industry, per the BBC. And Paris tailor Jeremie Liotet tells the Telegraph that he doesn't think people will pay to have something repaired when they can just buy something new and cheap. "I'm not sure [the program] will really change the lives of tailors," he notes. The paper reports that the plan is similar to one from last winter, when France offered up to $50 for consumers to repair their home appliances and electronics. (More France stories.)

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