Episode 196: All About The Fashion Act, with Maxine Bédat

Amanda is joined by Maxine Bédat, author of Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment and the founder/director of sustainable fashion think tank New Standard Institute. In 2021, Maxine led the introduction of the New York Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act…aka the Fashion Act!  In this episode we will answer all of your questions about this groundbreaking piece of legislation, including
  • Why is the fashion industry largely unregulated?
  • What are the policies within the legislation?
  • What are the penalties for brands that don’t adhere to the guidelines?
  • How do science based targets lead to business shifts?
  • How would the Fashion Act impact us (people who buy and wear clothing)?
  • How can you (yes, YOU) get involved in the Fashion Act?
  • How is working as a community good for our mental health?
  • What are examples of other times in history where concerned citizens have powered major social/political change?


Also: Amanda talks about the importance of hope and how community creates and spreads hope.

Learn more:
Follow @nsifashion2030 to stay in the loop.
Support the Fashion Act here.
Join us in Albany, NY for our next lobbying day on May 7! Details coming in the following weeks.

Be the first to hear all of the details about where, when, and how Episode 200 is happening: join the mailing list.
Have a question for Amanda to answer during episode 200? Submit it here.

The March webinar/hang out session is happening on Thursday, 3/28. Want to join us? Register here.

Behind the Seams

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

Did you enjoy this episode? Consider “buying me a coffee” via Ko-fi:


Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that wants to know if any of you had balloons delivered by a clown on your birthday when you were a kid?


I’m your host, Amanda, and this is episode 196.  My guest this week is Maxine Bedat, the author of Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment and the founder/director of sustainable fashion think tank New Standard Institute. In 2021, she led the introduction of the  New York Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act..aka the Fashion Act!  


Today we are going to talk about all things Fashion Act:

  • The actual policy within this groundbreaking piece of legislation
  • The global impact the Fashion Act would have if passed
  • How and why the fashion industry is currently unregulated (Spoiler: the Fashion Act would change that).
  • How you (yes, YOU) can get involved


And so much more!


Lately I have been thinking a lot about the power of hope. And how when we don’t have it, we aren’t happy or motivated or really active participants in this world.


Last fall, when I was asked to be an ambassador for the Fashion Act, I felt so honored and excited.  Like here was something that could make a difference in fashion’s current negative impact on the world (including all of us).  After all, as I always say, only two things will change the way this industry functions: fear of losing money/actually losing money and…THE LAW.  And here it was, the opportunity to make the law part happen and be an active participant in it.  Everything was kind of in a holding pattern until this year’s legislative session began, so I kinda filed my work on behalf of the Fashion Act away as “something to do next year.”  And then carried on with life.


And I have to say, by the end of the year, I was feeling exhausted.  Frustrated. Ready to quit.

Not because these issues didn’t matter to me any more.  Not because I really wanted to give up.

It was just like life was wearing me down. 

I had shingles. 

I was sick of dealing with the same bullshit excuses for why we shouldn’t care about the impact of fast fashion that I have been dealing with for years.  And with everything else happening in the world, I couldn’t help but feel like what I was doing was pointless.

We were getting ready to move across the country and it was a lot to worry about.

The whole thing happened with Remake, which was deeply traumatic and really left me feeling sick at the end of it all.


I realized that I was running out of hope. 

That’s a terrible place to be.  And honestly, I know I’m not the only one feeling that way, because I see this sense of hopelessness and doom all over social media.  


It’s funny to hear myself speak about the importance of hope because in the early 00s, hipster era in which I came of age, this kind of talk would have gotten me laughed out of the room! There was no place for hope in an era of irony and I don’t know, stigmatized earnestness?!

But I can’t help but look back and see how hungry we were for hope by the 2010s, and companies knew that.  So hope turned into a marketing message, with #girlboss and Toms giving away shoes and a zillion different pieces of merch created with the whole “a portion of the proceeds benefits this charity” attached.  We wanted hope.  Retailers tried to sell it to us…and I think it worked for a while.  I think social media companies tried to sell us hope, too, by connecting us via the magic of the internet…while that connection still feels real and powerful to me, ultimately those companies made a fortune by selling both access to us to all of the big retailers and brands, but by also selling our data to them.


In today’s conversation, Maxine is going to bring up the idea of neoliberalism, the belief that economic growth and business are the keys to a better future.  That if we just let them, businesses will solve the problems.  You see this played out in the privatization of things like prisons, schools, healthcare…the expectation being that allowing companies to take the reins of these large systems will make them more efficient and effective. And well, I think we have all come to realize that just isn’t the case.  But I do think in the 2010s, we had somehow privatized the idea of hope.  I think these companies saw how Barack Obama had brought the idea of hope to the mainstream, out of hipster hiding, and people loved (and voted for) that hope.  These brands saw that the recession and the resulting social and economic repercussions (like the gig economy, permanent freelancing, stagnant wages and rising housing costs) were breaking people. Hope was something they could be sold, in the form of apps and fundraiser tees and so much more. 


Real hope has been in short supply. But I have seen and experienced incredibly moving moments of it over the past few years.  The first women’s march.  The way all of us were so excited to get out and vote in 2020. The feeling of watching the inauguration in 2021.  


I have felt hopeful on a personal level. That hopeful feeling of taking a big leap into something new. When we moved to Texas.  When we then–two years later–moved back to Pennsylvania.  

But still, hope was feeling out of reach for me at the end of last year.  But this year, getting to work on the Fashion Act, going to the lobbying day in February, working on a lot of other cool projects, meeting new people, getting amped up to spend more time with all of you this year…this has given me the hope that I need. I feel excited to do this work.  I feel excited to wake up every day. I feel like real change is not only possible, but going to happen. And I think that hope can be contagious.  So one of my goals right now is to, I don’t know, infect all of you with that hope so you can spread to those around you.  Because hope is motivation.  Hope is energy.  Hope is letting yourself believe that dreams can come true.  Or if not dreams, at least things we all really want to happen to make this world better.  Let’s let ourselves hope together.  


Okay, let’s jump into my conversation with Maxine, because we have a LOT to discuss.

Still experiencing technical difficulties with the transcription service provider.  You can find this episode with subtitles on YouTube or with transcription on Apple podcasts and Spotify.

Thanks to Maxine for spending time with us all.  I hope you are feeling as excited and hopeful about the Fashion Act as I am. I will be sharing all of the links in the show notes that you will need to get involved.


And I also want to remind you of the lobbying day on May 7, in Albany, NY..  I would love to put together a central/eastern PA crew of people to go up for the lobbying day with me, so if  you are interested, send me an email. Let’s see what we can figure out!

But wait…there are more community-related announcements/reminders to share with you all:


#1. Just a reminder that Episode 200 of Clotheshorse will be a live-streaming extravaganza, happening on Thursday, April 18th on YouTube! We will be filming and recording it live at The Candy Factory in Lancaster. 


This episode will be part AMA, part retrospective.  And that’s where you come in!

Because this episode will also include video, we want to see videos from all of you: sharing your favorite Clotheshorse episode, what you’ve learned along the way, or any other thoughts you have about slow fashion and why it matters to you!  You can also just ask me a question.   If video is not your thing, you can send a recorded audio message instead.  And if you really hate the sound of your voice, you can send me an email instead. This is going to me a multimedia extravaganza! 


Any videos or audio messages must be submitted by April 1, because Dustin and I need time to edit and mix in preparation for the live episode. So don’t snooze! Get those submissions in soon! You can send your video or audio message to me via email, [email protected]. Do not submit via DM.



Feel overwhelmed by submitting a whole video or recording? Submit a question using the link in the show notes (and my IG bio)  that I will answer during the episode! 

#2: The next Clotheshorse hang out/webinar will be happening on Thursday, 3/28. The topic will be “how to talk to others about slow fashion.”  As with last month’s webinar, participation is free, but of course, if you have a good time and learn something new, I encourage you to support my work by buying me a ko-fi!.  You can find the link to register in the show notes. Just like the last time, there are only 100 spots available, so don’t procrastinate.   There will not be a webinar in April because there is just too much going on that month! In addition to the live episode, I am going to Tempe, Arizona at the end of the month to speak at Behind the Seams, a part of Eco Fashion Week!

#3: We have settled on some dates for the Clotheshorse Jamboree here in Lancaster, PA this summer. August 16-18! We are still in the very early stages of planning this, so stay tuned for more updates.


Okay, that’s a lot of updates and announcements! But I’m just so excited to get to spend time with our community in new and more personal ways this year.  Because as Maxine said, there is something so powerful about being part of a community, working towards something that matters to us all.  The impact it has on our mental health cannot be underestimated. Community creates hope.  It also spreads hope. And hope is what we need to make things happen. So let’s stay hopeful, together, this year!

Want to Support Amanda's Work on Clotheshorse?

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

Clotheshorse is brought to you with support from the following sustainable small businesses:

Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at thumbprintdetroit.com and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at shiftwheeler.com

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at highenergyvintage.com, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at wearStEvens.com, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at decodenim.com to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at thepewterthimble.com

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at blankcass.com.

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at www.shopvelvetunderground.com

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at www.republicaunicornia.com.

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.