Policy is an important lever in creating a better, more sustainable, and equitable fashion system. But if we only focus on policy that explicitly talks about the fashion industry and sustainability, we may be missing some opportunities.
In today’s episode, I’m chatting with fashion policy expert Kenya Wiley.
Kenya Wiley is a policy counsel, professor and advisor focused on fashion law, technology and social justice. Kenya created Georgetown University’s first fashion law course in 2019—with a focus on fashion tech, social justice and sustainability. Kenya has also served on the faculty at the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, and she has guest lectured and presented at numerous institutions and government agencies—including Parsons School of Design, American University, MIT Media Lab, the Federal Bar Association and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
In this episode, Kenya is sharing behind the scenes on the processes behind legislation and regulation — and even explaining the difference between the two terms — and some of the current policies in the works that could involve fashion that the fashion industry isn’t talking about. These could be potential needle movers to cleaning up fashion, but aren’t being taken advantage of right now.
Kenya is also discussing the much-anticipated Green Guides from the Federal Trade Commission to help reduce greenwashing, what recent US Supreme Court decisions mean for the fashion industry, a funding opportunity for sustainability-minded fashion organizations, and more.
Listen to This Episode:
Highlights from this Conversation with Kenya
The difference between “legislation” and “regulation”
“When we talk about legislation, here in the US, we are referring to bills and legislation before Congress, either in the House or the Senate. When we discuss what’s known as regulations or rules or regulations, oftentimes, we are referring to what the agencies are doing.” — Kenya (00:08:26)
How everyday citizens can influence sustainable fashion policy
“I always say that politics starts at the local level. August is the perfect time because this is when the Senate is in August recess. Congress is in recess. The members are back in their home states and home districts. And, oftentimes, they will have town hall meetings with their city councilmen, their city Alderman, and other state and local elected officials. So this is a great time to go to those town hall meetings and express your concerns.
Express your concerns in a way where you’re also recommending changes that the member can take back to Washington, or at the local level depending on who you are speaking with at that time.
Make sure you do your research. Find out the committees that they work on, the caucuses that they belong to, their passions, and what are they interested in moving. Consider how you can work with them to propose legislative solutions so that you aren’t just going in there to complain. Instead, you are sharing challenges and suggesting solutions.” — Kenya (00:30:36)
Trends in global sustainability legislation
“One of the things that we always say in my fashion, law, and social justice class is that first, it’s Europe, then it’s California, and then the country and the US government eventually follows.” — Kenya (00:40:20)
Links From This Episode
- Online Community: Conscious Fashion Collective Membership
- Website: Kenya Wiley
- Instagram: Kenya Wiley
- Newsletter: Fashion Law and Social Justice Newsletter
- Online course: Fashion Policy and Justice (Note: listeners can take 50% off with code JUSTICE50; contact Kenya directly for the 80% off student discount)
- Podcast Episode: EP79: Sustainable Fashion Policy and Collective Action with Elizabeth Cline
- Information Resource: 2023 Farm Bill
- Information Resource: SEC Climate Disclosures Rule
- Information Resource: The Recycling & Compostability Accountability Act
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