Conscious Style Podcast

97) Overlooked Policy Opportunities for Sustainable Fashion with Kenya Wiley

Episode Summary

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, Elizabeth speaks with fashion policy expert Kenya Wiley. 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.

Episode Notes

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 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.

Find the transcript here.




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Episode Transcription

Elizabeth Joy: 

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 out on some opportunities. 

In today's episode, I'm talking with fashion policy expert Kenya Wiley — and you'll hear more about her impressive background in a moment.

But in this episode, Kenya is sharing the behind the scenes on the processes behind legislation and regulation in the US — and even explaining the difference between those two terms — plus some of the current policy in the works that could involve fashion, the fashion industry isn't talking about. These could be potential needle movers in cleaning up fashion, but aren't being taken advantage of as of now.

Kenya is also discussing the much-anticipated Green Guides from the Federal Trade Commission that would help reduce greenwashing, what recent US Supreme Court Decisions mean for the fashion industry, a funding opportunity for sustainability-minded fashion organizations, and more.

If you want to dive even deeper into this conversation of fashion and policy, we're going to be hosting a Q&A with Kenya inside the Conscious Fashion Collective Membership, the online community for sustainable fashion professionals. 

You can join us at And i'll also drop the link below for you to check out.

Alright, now let's get into this conversation with Kenya…


Elizabeth Joy:

Today I have the privilege of speaking with Kenya Wiley. Kenya is a policy council professor and adviser focused on fashion law, technology, and social justice. Kenya created Georgetown University's 1st 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 Parson's School of Design, American University, MIT MediaLab, the Federal Bar Association, and the US Department of commerce. 

Kenya has advised brands and retailers and issues related to fashion policy, equity, and sustainability. And she also launched the fashion law and social justice platform to inform, inspire, and help build a diverse equitable, and inclusive fashion talent pipeline in fashion law, tech, and social justice. 

Kenya has written on the intersection of fashion law, technology, politics, and policy with bylines in WWD, CNN, Fashionista, and ELLE. 

Kenya previously served in senior legal and policy positions for the US Senate Homeland Security And Government Affairs Committee, and the Motion Picture Association's legal department. 

While at Motion Picture Association, Kenya designed and implemented the association's inaugural academic outreach program for colleges and law schools. In 2017, Kenya was named 1 of WWDs, women's leader in business, and she was awarded Howard Law Schools 2012 Intelligent Design Award for her outstanding contributions in fashion, law, and policy. 

Kenya also chaired ASTMs inaugural task group on data security for smart textiles. Kenya received her BA in psychology from Stanford University and her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center. 

Wow. That is quite an impressive bio, Kenya. I'm super excited to dive into this conversation with you. I know we have a lot of interesting topics to cover. But to start off, could you share how you ended up working in fashion law and fashion policy. Like, what brought you to what you do today?

Kenya Wiley:

Sure, Elizabeth, and thank you so much for that kind introduction. So my policy journey started when I was, I would say, in grade school, my mother was very involved in politics in Chicago or from the south side of Chicago. So I would tag along with her to various events, and that led into internships, working with state and local government offices in Chicago while in high school and in college. 

And so when I decided go to law school. I went to law school, not because I wanted to be a litigator, but because of my passion for politics and policy. Which led me to working on federal agency issues after law schools. After that, I worked for an agency, and then I also worked for a trade association. 

So as we discuss regulatory issues for fashion right now, I have drafted and submitted comments to just about every federal agency related to the fashion industry at some point in my career. So that includes the Federal Trade Commission, the Commerce Department, the SEC, the Securities And Exchange Commission, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, and the list goes on and on. 

And then I worked on Capitol Hill, and that's where everything came together. My passion for fashion law, policy, in politics. And so during that time, I've served as a committee council for the Senate Homeland Security Committee. And there were 2 big developments going on around that time related to the fashion industry.

One was to get copyright protection for fashion design because as you may know, in the United States, we still do not have a copyright law that provides copyright protection specifically for fashion design. And so that was one effort. 

There was another effort around American Manufacturing and the fashion industry was included in that. And then you may be familiar with a bill, actually, there were 2. There was one on the House side called the stop online piracy act for SoPA. And then on the Senate side, it was called the Protect IP Act, for PIPAA. 

And the goal was to crack down on online copyright infringement and also counterfeit goods. So you get the fashion connection right there. And so during that time, I noticed that there was this surge in the way that technology was starting to impact, motion picture association, film, video music. And so I left to work in house at the Motion Picture Association at MPA, stayed there for a couple of years, and then decided to focus on Fashion Tech And Fashion Policy full time, which led me into practicing working in fashion policy and then also teaching at Georgetown. 

So I went from an intern focus on policy issues to a regulatory attorney to a hill staffer to focusing full time on fashion policy and teaching it as well.

Elizabeth Joy:

I mean, it's honestly hard to find somebody more qualified to speak about fashion law than you, Kenya. So I'm really looking forward to diving into some of the sides of this legislative environment in the US that we don't often get a glimpse into as individual citizens. 

So There are several pieces of policy in the works right now that directly, you know, use the word fashion. Like, The FABRIC Act is related to fashion or New York's fashion act. And we had an episode covering that type of policy in the past with Elizabeth Cline, which was super informative.

But also what's interesting about your work is that you also cover policy, including federal legislation in Congress, and agency actions, rules and regulations, that doesn't necessarily have the word fashion in it, but have tie-ins with the fashion industry. 

So what are some examples of policy that aren't being talked about in the fashion industry but do have implications for fashion when it comes to social responsibility and sustainability? 

Kenya Wiley:

Right so, great question, Elizabeth. And there's so much going on right now. I am going to limit my discussion to 3 main areas. 

And the first is around accountability and transparency, making sure that brands and retailers and everyone in fashion that they are doing better, holding them accountable. The second is around infrastructure and resources, giving everyone the tools and support so that they can do better. And then the 3rd is around what I call civil rights and human rights and labor. 

But before I get into the policy issues. I just wanted to clarify because we often hear folks mention the word legislation and regulations interchangeably. 

So 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. And then when you when we discuss what's known as regulations or rules or regulations, oftentimes, we are referring to what the agencies are doing.

And so there is a difference because you may hear someone say that Congress is regulating a particular industry. Yes, they can, but not directly. The way that it Congress can regulate is by introducing legislation, giving an agency statutory authority to regulate. And so once that agency has the authority to regulate in a particular area they can do that through proposing rules as we've seen several times, this past year. 

We'll get into that, or they may have a different another agency action, and then also through enforcement to, which is very important because even if an agency has the authority to issue a rule, they also need the resources to enforce and implement that rule as well or that regulation. 

So I'm gonna cover, a few areas for both legislation and regulation. And so starting with accountability and transparency, some of your listeners may be familiar with Securities And Exchange Commission because they have proposed rules out right now for climate disclosures. And this is huge right now. 

So The SEC announced the proposed rule last year in 2022. The comment period has closed, and so now we expect for the commission to release a final rule, sometime this year. That's still open at this point. And so why is this climate disclosure rule so important? 

Because it would require disclosures, not just for scope 1 and scope 2, greenhouse gas emissions, but also for scope 3, when we talk about upstream, such as farming, raw materials, manufacturing, and transportation and also downstream when we discuss recycling and waste disposal and elimination. And so oftentimes in the fashion industry, I would say 80%, of the emissions fall into that scope 3 category. So that's huge right now for the industry. 

And although the SEC's proposed rule has not been issued as final rule, we are starting to see more brands and retailers take note and also, disclose scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3, or at least look into how they would do that. 

So that's the first with the Securities And Exchange Commission. And that's around accountability and transparency. 

And next, I wanna move into infrastructure and resources, giving brands, retailers, and consumers that support, to do better. And so one huge bill that everyone is focused on right now is the 2023 Farm Bill. 

And why is this so important? Because the current Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill, it expires at the end of September, on September 30th. And so there's been this push for the 2023 bill to include education, equity, and support around regenerative agriculture. 

And so now looking at raw materials, that can be more supportive for environmental fashion initiatives. There's been a lot of buzz around regenerative, and so there's actually a coalition of farmers, fashion businesses, and nonprofits looking to make sure that there's funding in there as farmers are looking to transition from conventional current farming practices to regenerative farming practices as well. 

So the next one, actually, there are two. I'm gonna highlight real quickly. There's another one, and this is very important too, has not received that much press, and that's around recycling. It's the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act. 

And this bill has been moving very quickly in the Senate. As you know, especially in the Senate, it takes a while to get anything through Congress, right? It's just the nature of Congress, even in a good year. But this bill, the recycling accountability act, recycling and composting accountability act, has been moving very quickly through the Senate. 

The bill was marked up in April of this year, April 2023, meaning that's when it moved through committee, and it was presented to the full Senate in June with a committee report. And so why this bill is so important is because it focuses on collecting data and, the circular economy and it also mentions textiles as part of that. 

And so it wants to look to see, like, what exactly, what waste do we currently have in plastics, the list goes on and on, textiles, that's not making its way back into the circular economy because there is a saying that says, what gets measured gets done. And so this is a way for Congress to require EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, to look at the baseline, how serious is this problem? And then how can we do better on our more holistic level?

Elizabeth Joy:


Kenya Wiley:

And so there's been a lot of talk around, especially at EPA, around building a circular economy. And so in 2020, another bill that's now law that did not get that much attention was to Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. And so it gave the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the authority to regulate in this space, and it provided a definition for a circular economy. 

And because of the authority under the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act and funding under the bipartisan infrastructure law EPA has announced several initiatives. One was a recycling education outreach grant program. The application period closed for that in, earlier this year, but they also have another strategy around plastic pollution, and that just closed as well. At least the comment period, and that comment period closed on, July 31 2023, this year. 

And so I think it's important because we often focus on the accountability and transparency part of fashion, but not necessarily around what the federal government is doing to provide tools and resources both through authorizing the EPA with ability to issue certain grants and then also for funding as well.

Elizabeth Joy:

Yeah. Absolutely. This is all really, really great information to know. But it seems like there are a lot of missed opportunities for the fashion industry, like sustainable fashion, press media seems to be really focused on the EU, and there is a lot coming out of the EU, but personally — and I would say I read a lot of fashion media, but I haven't seen much talked about this, US policy and the what's going on here.

So are you seeing from your side of things fashion participating in any of this or not?

Kenya Wiley:

Well, first of all, great question, Elizabeth. And to be honest, it really depends on the issue in the legislation. And so when we discuss the 2023 Farm Bill, have we seen, like, a huge movement in the fashion industry as we have with other initiatives, like the Fabric Act or the New York Fashion Act? 

No. Absolutely not. But there has been some interest from the fashion industry. There is a coalition of farmers fashion businesses and nonprofits that are focused on making sure that regenerative agriculture and support and resources for regenerative agriculture are included in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Elizabeth Joy:

Okay. And I also hope that we would see some more with the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act since you mentioned that that does at least it at least includes textiles. I'm not sure to what extent, but fashion definitely should be getting involved with that. 

So PSA to anyone who has, you know, involvement in policy in their work that's listening, maybe look into these things and I'll leave links in the show notes so you can check that out.

Elizabeth Joy: 

You've also been talking about some of their recent Supreme Court decisions and how those may influence fashion too, such as SCOTUS' decision to strike down Affirmative Action and what that could mean for diversity in the US fashion industry. 

So what are some of the recent SCOTUS decisions that you could see impacting fashion and sustainability?

Kenya Wiley:

Yeah. So there are two that I would be concerned about. 

One was a case involving EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, where the Supreme Court, for the most part, weakened the agency's authority to prevent and eliminate water pollution. 

And so why is this important? Because first of all, it sends a signal that environmental protection is not important. And then also, as you have 2 agencies right now that are working on climate and environmental focus, rules, or I should say review, you have both the SEC. I just mentioned their proposed climate disclosure rule. And then you also have the FTC and their green guides review, which is not in a proposed rule format yet for the next stage, but both, are very important because the Supreme Court is sending a message to agencies that we have the authority to invalidate your work. So that's one. That's Socket versus EPA. 

The second case involves a labor. And it's the Glacier versus Teamsters union case where the Supreme Court held that the Teamsters union did not take reasonable precautions to protect their employer's property during a strike. So this is particularly important right now as we're discussing the importance of labor and talent in the industry. 

And so right now, as we're recording, as you know, there are 2 unions on strike, 2 guilds on strike in Hollywood right now, both the actors and the writers. And although the fashion industry does not have a guilt or a union per se, I know there have been discussions over the years for designers to form a guild and also for stylists more recently to form a guild, but there's none in existence right now. 

We have seen this for insurgence in union organizing in retail. And so what does this mean as you have employees in fashion and retail that are interested in forming a union and then what if it gets to the point when they went to strike? And so the concern is that the Supreme Court's decision is going to stifle, if you call it that, the ability of unions to actually feel comfortable striking for fear that they could get sued by their employers for striking.

Elizabeth Joy:

Yeah. I mean, there's been a lot of concerning SCOTUS decisions in the past several years. So but I appreciate this tie-in with the fashion industry and efforts to improve the social and environmental responsibility of the industry. 

And you briefly mentioned the FTC Green Guides, and this is something that fashion has been quite involved with in talking about a lot. So I'm hoping we can dive more into that. 

So first, background for listeners, The Federal Trade Commission, the FTC, is behind the green guides, which provide marketers with guidance on how to avoid greenwashing. And fashion brands, organizations have been offering comments and pushing for stricter guidelines. 

But what should we know about the FTC and the Green Guides, especially given SCOTUS sort of telling government agencies that, as you were saying before, you have less authority than you think you do.

Kenya Wiley:

Absolutely. And so just for background, the last time that the FTC Green Guides were updated was in 2012. And so the FTC, they have what they call the review process, and so they review their rules and regulations every 10 years to determine if they're so necessary, if they're outdated, if they should be updated, or if they should be deleted, removed altogether. 

And so, yes, there was this huge push from the fashion industry to, push the the FTC to to move forward, with their green guides reviewed. But to be honest, the FTC, they would have reviewed their green guides regardless because they do so under this 10 year review period anyway. 

And so in December of last year in 2022, that's when the Federal Trade Commission announced the Green Guides Review and then the comment period for that closed in April of this year, April of 2023. 

So in full disclosure, I also, submitted comments to the green guides. I partnered with 2 of my academic colleagues, and we felt very strongly that when the FTC looks to review and update the green guides, they must do so through the lens of equity and justice as well. And so our green guides comment focused on three main areas. 

One we just mentioned was is regenerative agriculture because, as you know, regenerative has been a huge buzzword in the fashion industry. Right? And there have been several articles about it. 

But what exactly does it mean? We've discussed it in terms of regenerative cotton, regenerative agriculture, it's come up in the context of we're general to nylon and the list goes on and on. But when you think about what exactly is regenerative. It dates back to indigenous land practices, but what we started to see is that indigenous communities weren't acknowledged in these discussions. And so we felt very strongly that the definition should include reference and acknowledgment of Indigenous root. So that was one. 

We also mentioned the importance of both when looking at circularity and sustainability, which is not included in the 2012 guides. Although we know sustainability is another huge buzzword in the industry that the FTC should also look to see what other agencies are doing because it's confusing.

We were just discussing EPA. If they're if they have a definition for a circular economy and you have let's say, a startup or a brand and they're applying for grants or they're working with the EPA, and they have to follow the EPA's definition. 

And then what if the FTC has a different definition for circularity, and the same goes for sustainability. So we recommended that the EPA and FTC work together on these definitions so that it'll make it easier for consumers as well.

And then the last part, that we emphasize was to make sure that as the FTC is moving forward with their Green Guides review. Hopefully, they will come out with a proposed rule that they have the resources to actually enforce the guides because it's one thing to come out with new rules and regulations. But if you do not have the ways. If you do not have an office to enforce the guides, and also a dedicated staff to engage with stakeholders to make sure that they're aware of the guides, then the guides are meaningless. And so we wanted to make sure that the FTC is looking at those additional resources. 

So one other thing that I wanted to add to about the FTC's Green Guides process is that the FTC also held a workshop in May, and they focus on recyclable claims and so on recycling. And so they made it very clear about their limited statutory authority because the FTC does not have the authority to issue broad environmental policy. 

So when we're talking about what EPA is doing to make transformational change, in building a circular economy, that's what EPA does, right, because Congress gave EPA that authority through 2 laws. The Save Our Seas 2.0 act and also the bipartisan infrastructure law for funding. But the FTC does not have that authority. 

And so that's why I always say it's so important when you are crafting comments and submitting them to agencies that your comments address what's included in the proposed rulemaking or whatever the federal register notice outlines. And then also that you're asking or requesting items that are within that agency statutory authority. And for the FTC, that is limited to unfair or deceptive acts or practices around deceptive marketing, not broader, environmental policies that fall under the EPA's statutory authority. So that's important too.

Elizabeth Joy:

Yeah. It's a really important distinction. And there's all these things that I feel like as individuals that are maybe outside of the policy sphere, it can be sort of confusing. And you've mentioned a lot of policy that isn't being talked about in fashion media as we discussed. 

So what do you suggest for how we can engage individuals to get more involved with their local governments or representatives and advocate on these issues related to social justice and sustainability given some of the nuances and complications, like, how should we even start going about that?

Kenya Wiley:

Right. So great question. And I always say that politics starts at the local level. That is how I got my start working in policy and politics. I worked for a Chicago City, Alderman, on the city's south side. Like, our councilmen in Chicago are called Alderman, not city councilmen. when I say all different, I'm referring to our city councilmen or women, at the local level. 

And so August is the perfect time because this is when the Senate is in what we call in the house is what we call August recess. So 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, express your concerns. 

And then also express them in a way where you're also recommending changes, that the member can take back and bring back to Washington or, at the local level depending on who you are, speaking with at that time. 

And so that's one of the reasons why I launched our fashion policy and justice online course because we have a couple of sessions in there, actually, several that outline, like, how you should address your member of Congress. Right? 

Make sure you do your research, find out the committees that they work on, the caucuses that they belong to, their passions, right? What are they interested in moving? And then also how you can work with them to propose legislative solutions so that you aren't just going in there to complain, but that you're sharing, like, this is a challenge, but these are your suggestions for addressing that challenge.

Elizabeth Joy:

Mhmm. Mhmm. And how also a question that I get from people active in the sustainable fashion space. And by the way, I will link that course in the show notes as well for everybody to check out, and there's a discount code that will be in there too. 

Kenya Wiley:

Thank you, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Joy:

Another question that I get is, from people who are in the industry, who may be do operate within fashion advocacy or at work with a brand or whatever it is. Wondering how we can get others more engaged in this. Right? How do we make it feel appealing? 

Because it can be maybe challenging or complicated, but how can we bring people in? Patagonia is a brand that has advocacy as a core part of their marketing. They talk a lot about advocacy. And so they kinda do it in a fun way. Remake as an organization that I feel like makes getting involved with advocacy, really fun, but do you have any thoughts on that? Like, how can we involve more people in getting involved on fashion and sustainability policy?

Kenya Wiley:

I would say the first step is to and this is it sounds it's easier said than done, but to help build a coalition to educate and inform. And so going back to my work, I also have the Fashion Policy and Social Justice Platform where we send out a newsletter, few times, couple of times a month. And as part of that, we include policy updates. 

And so if companies know what's going on, then they're more likely to want to get involved in former coalition or, in some way, make sure that their voices are heard. So education, I would say education is the first step to inform and educate.

Elizabeth Joy:

Right. Yeah. Just being aware of what's going on. And speaking of that, you mentioned, you know, there's not just regulations and legislation to think about, but there's also the other side, which is incentives and funding opportunities. 

So what are some opportunities that sustainable fashion entrepreneurs and businesses could take advantage of right now in the US?

Kenya Wiley:

Right. So going back to EPA, because there is a lot of funding at EPA right now, they actually have, funding right now for Circular fashion. Well, not just for, for fashion, but for Circular Businesses And Sustainable Materials. And that application closes on August 23rd this year. So not a lot of time, but you have the month of August if you're interested in that particular funding opportunity.

Elizabeth Joy:

Okay. Yeah. And that'll be, like, the day after this goes live. So act quickly if you're listening to this on August 22nd, but also people can subscribe to your newsletter to continue to be updated about opportunities like this because I think part of it is also just getting plugged in to resources so you know when these things come out. 

And, listeners, Kenya's newsletter is full of great resources. So if you are working in the fashion industry, that is a great newsletter to add to your subscription list.

Kenya Wiley:

And one more point about getting involved in building coalitions and the advocacy side, it's very important what I've noticed from my days on the hill to, to get involved early in the process when legislation is being developed or when agencies are first starting to consider proposed rules on a particular issue. Because oftentimes, and I can speak to this from the legislative standpoint, If you wait too long to get involved, if you're on the sidelines, because you're saying, oh, that really doesn't apply to me. 

And then all of a sudden, there's this media blitz and you realize how important this bill is. At that point, it may be too late to have to get an amendment attached to the bill or to include a new section because legislation, it's about the substance, right, of the policy, but it's also very much a numbers game. And numbers meaning both what we call the score of the bill, how much is a bill gonna cost, the government, and US taxpayers, and also it's a numbers game in terms of members. So let's say that you want your organization, a particular brand, it's very concerned about the issue, and you wanna add an amendment. 

But by adding that provision or an amendment to a bill, you may get 3 members on one side of the aisle supporting your bill, additional members, but then you may lose 7 members in Congress on the other side of the out, which means that by adding your provision that you want, the bill would not be able to get through Congress. So it's both making sure that the cost of the bill is okay, numbers-wise, adding your provision, it may add additional, amount, the cost of the bill. 

So think about the numbers. Is it adding you wouldn't know that at the end, right? And then we'll other members support your bill because at the end of the day, yes, it's one thing to get pressed. 

At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you're getting results. Yes, press and media attention can be helpful. but you want your initiative to get passed and signed into law.

Elizabeth Joy:

Yeah. A lot to consider there so appreciate your expertise on all of this. This has been really, really informative. 

And then there's also, like, beyond the Federal US government, which we've been talking about a lot. There are, of course, other policy levers to clean up fashion. Like state governments, there's been some action coming out of California in particular. Or implications that use policies will have on global fashion brands, including ones that operate in the US. So How do you see these other players impacting the fashion industry?

Kenya Wiley:

Yeah. So, absolutely agree with your comment because 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. 

And so my students always ask, well, why can't the federal government do what that EU is doing or what California is doing. And so we've seen how this has played out in terms of data privacy over the years. 

So in 2018, the EU is what's called the GDPR, the general data protection regulation went into effect. And and so that deals with data privacy. And then we saw how California had there, comprehensive data privacy law, and several states started to follow suit. The federal government here in Congress, there have been several versions of a comprehensive data privacy law that has not passed, but there has been more momentum. 

And so I expect that we will see that same momentum here in the US as well. And so looking at this first, as you know, over the summer that the EU announced their new, proposal for extended producer responsibility, right, around EPR. And so we've also seen how California is looking into EPR for textiles as well, although as of the date of this recording, that has been delayed. 

And so I expect that we will start to see more activity around how to regulate textiles, both at agency level, and then also, with legislation coming through congress, as we've seen with the recycling bill that we just mentioned, which covers at least, the baseline data for textiles as part of recycling and building a circular economy as well.

Elizabeth Joy:

Interesting. And I also hope that I mean, you were discussing the limitations of the FTC, but  I hope that we can get some more strength in the Green Guides against greenwashing, like, what we've been seeing coming out of the EU and UK.

Like the UK recently put a ban one carbon neutral claims on products that was accomplished via carbon offsets, and they have a lot of language in their guidance about, basically, sustainability marketing has to be aligned with science. And it's really encouraging to see that. And I hope that we'll eventually see something like that in the US too if, you know, if with that pattern continues of, like, the US following the EU eventually.

Kenya Wiley:

Yes. And speaking of the FTC and the Green Guides. Both the FTC and I mentioned the Securities And Exchange Commission, the SEC, for the climate disclosure rules, they have to be very careful because we have a Supreme Court that is on standby to invalidate government action coming from the agency. So the agencies have to be very careful how they move forward.

Elizabeth Joy:

Yeah. And, hopefully, that won't always be the case, but, yeah, for the time being.

Well, Kenya, thank you for sharing so much wisdom and insights in this episode. Where can people connect with you and stay in the know with your updates on fashion-related policy.

Kenya Wiley:

Sure. Thank you, Elizabeth. So I am always on LinkedIn. And as I've mentioned, I have a newsletter on Substack, fashion law, social justice, and then I'm also on Instagram at kenyanwiley.

Elizabeth Joy:

Perfect. And all those links will be down below in the show notes as well as the link to your policy course and the discount code. Which thank you, by the way, so much for offering listeners that. 

And I do have one final question for you that we ask every guest that comes into the show, which is what would a better future for fashion look like to you?

Kenya Wiley:

I would say 1st and foremost, respect and value for all humans and fashions ecosystem. And this includes everyone from the farmers at the raw material stage to the student interns to sales associates, to designers, attorneys, freelancers, contractors, full-time employees because when we think about sustainability I look at it in 2 different areas. 

First, you have environmental impacts, but you also have the human impact. And making sure that humans, all humans, right, are working in an equitable and inclusive environment because we hear companies constantly talk about DE and I programs, right, for diversity, equity, and inclusion. But if you are not able to sustain and keep your talent because they don't have equitable pay or the environment is not inclusive, then really what you have is a D program because you don't have the equity and inclusion. So making sure that we're respecting and we show value to everyone all humans that are part of fashion's ecosystem.