PARIS – As the European Union steps up its regulation of the fashion industry, Livia Firth’s Eco-Age is launching a policy advisory division.
The new consulting arm will help companies navigate compliance on the EU’s basket of new and proposed rules and directives that have wide-ranging implications on textile production and the fashion industry, including the Eco Design for Sustainable Products Regulation, the anti-greenwashing Green Claims Directive, and overarching EU Green Deal slate.
It will also look at U.S.-based legislation, including New York’s Fashion Act.
George Harding-Rolls, former campaign manager at the Changing Markets Foundation, will take up the role of policy director and lead the new division.
At Changing Markets, Harding-Rolls headed up the Fossil Fashion campaign, investigating the fashion industry’s use of fossil fuels to create synthetic textiles, including polyester, which now accounts for over half of all textiles produced. The investigation also looked at companies replacing cotton with cheaper polyester in an effort to claim it is a more sustainable fiber.
He also led the NGO’s anti-greenwashing project, an interactive website which walks consumers through companies’ green claims and breaks them down point by point.
“I have known George for several years and am a huge fan of his work. The Changing Markets Foundation has pioneered some of the most important investigative reporting highlighting the intrinsic link between oil and the fashion industry, driven by George,” said Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age.
“His wealth of experience and knowledge of the global policy and regulatory field, together with our highly skilled team and sustainable fashion and textile expert Philippa Grogan, takes Eco-Age to a whole new level of consultancy and advocacy,” she added.
Eco-Age is perhaps best known for its Green Carpet Fashion Awards, which has made its mark with appearances from Zendaya, Stella McCartney and Cate Blanchett, and its Renaissance Awards for young leaders.
Harding-Rolls joined Changing Markets from the sustainability and business non-profit Forum for the Future, with prior experience at the social marketing agency Jellyfish.
“I am delighted to be joining Eco-Age at such a pivotal time as the fashion industry heads into a new era of scrutiny and regulation. Now is the time for truly ambitious organizations to be stepping up and doubling down on systemic change, such as much-needed legislation. With this new focus Eco-Age is positioning itself to be the partner of choice in this crucial mission,” Harding-Rolls commented.
The division will look at Europe-based policies not only from an EU level, but country-by-country across the continent, provide training and education as well as campaigns and messaging around industry issues.
“The EU landscape is changing fast: One only must look at the recently announced German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and the French Environmental Labelling requirements to see how the landscape is finally moving from voluntary CSR requirements to mandatory due diligence. Eco-Age has been working at EU regulatory level in the last few years and was the first agency to focus on reputational risk creating a new ‘insurance service’ for clients, so it’s a natural extension of our services,” said Eco-Age chief executive officer Harriet Vocking.
The new division comes as the EU is planning to roll out several regulations that will impact the textile and fashion industry between 2025 and 2030.