If 2021 saw gains on garment worker rights, materials invested, B Corps named and resellers made — then 2022 marked the year when leaders increasingly took definitive stances on fast fashion, policy and more.
Here, in a chronological timeline, are 2022’s most noteworthy sustainable fashion gains, informed by search-worthy traffic.
January 2022: ‘Fashion Act’ Bill Seeks to Make New York a Sustainability Leader
It was no quiet start to the year, at least not in New York City. The “Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act,” or “Fashion Act” (S7428) was unveiled in a media frenzy because of its radical disclosure requirements, environmental reparations and more.
Per the bill, under New York State law any apparel or footwear company doing business in New York that has annual global revenues of at least $100 million would be “required to map their supply chains, disclose environmental and social impacts, and set binding [science-based] targets to reduce those impacts.” Emissions reporting would align with the Paris Agreement and The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard, including the GHG Protocol Scope 3 Standard (or a company’s indirect emissions).
The Act on Fashion coalition, along with designer Stella McCartney and New York State policymakers Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Dr. Anna Kelles, ushered the bill to the state’s consumer protection committee in January.
March 2022: European Commission Calls for Greenwashing ‘Black List’
In most circles, the EU is the uncontested leader in sustainable change-making and policy moves. As the European Commission has made clear, fashion is not safe to continue as it has with rampant greenwashing. In just one instance, the commission moved to “black list” greenwashing as it sets up a number of circular policy changes.
April 2022: Amazon Workers Unionize in Staten Island, Plus Power Shifts
This wouldn’t be the only time workers spoke up on labor issues, but Amazon workers voting to unionize at a facility in Staten Island, New York, would be the first big union win Stateside against the online retail giant.
Power imbalances look to be shifting, which is a trend likely to continue. In New York City, a number of fashion manufacturers spoke out about the impact of late payments, recouping thousands in owed wages.
May 2022: Then Comes the ‘Fabric Act‘
Right on cue, the “Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act,” (or “Fabric Act”) followed the “Fashion Act” as industry stakeholders and political allies seek to supercharge sustainable progress.
This federal bill is championed as a pro-labor, domestic reshoring effort. It was introduced at a press conference in New York’s Garment District by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and already has a slew of support from the likes of Workers United, Remake, Garment Worker Center (GWC), The Model Alliance, Custom Collaborative, Sustainable Brooklyn, Fashion Revolution, The Slow Factory, New Standard Institute and brands such as Mara Hoffman and Another Tomorrow.
July 2022: Resale Start-ups Give Goods a Second Shot
Summer 2022 was marked by resale moves big and small — be it funding news, acquisitions, new category expansion and the like. WWD took a closer look to see how start-ups such as MyGemma, The Vault, Flyp, The Vintage Bar and more operate and differentiate themselves. As the appetite for previously used or worn fashion continues, there is greater hope for fashion to close the loop and embrace sustainable consumer behavior.
September 2022: Patagonia’s New Plan, Owned by the Planet
Patagonia is in the business of environmentalism first and foremost, it seems, and of course recycled polyester fleece jackets. In September, the family of founder Yvon Chouinard made headlines by giving away Patagonia more or less (a move calculated at $3 billion). The family transferred ownership of Patagonia to two new entities — Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective — allocating some $100 million in annual profits every year to fight climate change. The surprise news was celebrated as it starkly contrasted the capitalistic leanings of modern business.
October 2022: Fashion Fights Back: No Longer Accept Ye Products, Ban Fast Fashion
Fashion is putting its foot down on fast fashion, as well as inflammatory speech and action. When Ye, also known as Kanye West, made antisemitic comments, resellers from The RealReal, Rebag and more acted swiftly to ban his brand’s products. From a marketing perspective, crusades against overproduction were seen this year in Rent the Runway’s “Fast Fashion Free” campaign or in luxury reseller Vestiaire Collective’s pledge to ban fast fashion.
November 2022: The Academy Got a New Sustainable Red Carpet ‘Style’ Code
Major moments such as the Oscars, Met Gala, VMAs — and even presidential inaugurations — have become dominated by star appeal, with decisions around dress becoming pivotal takes on one’s values. This year, in formal collaboration with advocacy organization Red Carpet Green Dress, The Academy (which puts on the Oscars), took up a sustainability style code. With the aid of a visual guidebook and dress code, influential people may be more inclined to dress sustainably in key moments. With millions of followers, this positive influence can have a ripple effect.
December 2022: FTC Green Guides to Be Updated
Though unfamiliar to some, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission came out with an eco-marketing guideline in 1992 to help inform businesses on their communications. Today’s consumer landscape, however, has changed very much since the ’90s with words like “sustainability,” “regenerative,” “responsible” and more taking hyperbolic shape in clothing ads. With this in mind, the FTC decided to pull its Green Guides back out for review, much to the pleasure of concerned stakeholders (including trade groups like the American Apparel and Footwear Association) ready for change.