French lawmakers approve bill to apply penalties on fast fashion

PARIS — France’s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a bill seeking penalties on ultra-fast fashion products, sold by companies like China’s Shein, aimed at helping to offset their environmental impact.

The bill calls for gradually increasing penalties of up to €10 per individual item of clothing by 2030, as well as a ban on advertising for such products.

All voting lawmakers unanimously approved the bill, which will head to the senate before it can become law.

The popularity of fashion retailers Shein and Temu — which scale up orders based on demand thanks to ultra-flexible supply chains — have disrupted the retail sector while established players like Zara and H&M continue to largely rely on predicting shoppers’ preferences.

Shein said in a statement to Reuters that the clothes it produces meet an existing demand, which allows its rate of unsold garments to remain consistently in low single digits, whereas traditional players can have up to 40% waste.

It added that the only impact of the bill would be to “worsen the purchasing power of French consumers, at a time when they are already feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.”

The bill comes as the French environmental ministry said it would propose a European Union ban on exports of used clothes, in a bid to tackle the worsening problem of textile waste. — Reuters