As New York State’s legislative sessions wrapped up this week, some fashion-adjacent bills were stalled despite best efforts.
While past years saw an Albany calendar extending later into June, this year’s anticipated June primary is said to pull lawmakers’ attention elsewhere.
At the end of May, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act into law, taking a stance for adult survivors of sexual abuse. Sara Ziff, activist and executive director of the Model Alliance, expressed her sympathy and gratitude for the passage.
“Many survivors in the fashion industry are time-barred from seeking justice,” she said. “By passing the Adult Survivors Act, the Senate affirms that all survivors deserve a pathway to justice, no matter how old they were or how long ago the abuse occurred. The Model Alliance commends this important step and urges the Assembly to follow suit before the legislative session ends.”
Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced the ASA with Assembly Member Reyes along with the “Fashion Workers Act” (S8638) in March, which is backed by the Model Alliance. Despite crossing a major milestone in May when it passed the Senate labor committee, the Fashion Workers Act — a bill designed to protect models and other fashion creatives when it comes to things like fair and transparent pay — did not see additional forward movement.
Another bill from Hoylman and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy putting forth a ban on PFAS in common apparel (S6291/A07063) passed in both the Senate and Assembly. Hochul did not yet sign it into law and is prioritizing a package on gun reform. Dubbed “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a known carcinogen that reside on many common clothes. The bill would ensure that PFAS are out of clothing sold in New York.
One bill, which is holed up in the consumer protection committee but saw a lot of initial support, was the “Fashion Act” or Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (S7428/A08352), introduced by New York State policymakers Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Dr. Anna Kelles in October. Touting the bill in early season pressers for its requirements on environmental and social due diligence, Sen. Biaggi’s announced run for Congress, some industry sources believe, may have detracted from the rallying cry.
At a Sourcing Journal sustainability event held earlier this week, Nicole Bivens Collinson, president of International Trade & Government Relations at Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, PA, spoke more broadly on the legislative efforts affecting fashion. “You know, I don’t think anything is going to pass, but sometimes at the end of the year when we’re trying to fund the government, you see something that could try to slip through.”
The policy efforts, she said, are being driven by the younger consumer’s passion for sustainability and fashion could get “blindsided” if not attuned to what’s happening at the state and federal level. In early May, a federal bill called the “Fabric Act” was introduced by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (mirroring California’s passed wage theft law) echoing efforts seen at the state level.
Bills not yet passed enter another circuit as the New York State legislature allots two years from the point of introduction.