Deadstock fabrics are the leftovers of other fashion brands so to speak. It is all the fabrics they overestimated. Traditionally, fashion brands tend to hold on to the deadstock fabric for a couple of seasons before they send them off to landfills or burn.
Sounds sustainable and eco-friendly, right? Not really…
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But how can we turn this practice into a sustainable one? Large fashion houses will probably overestimate their need for fabric in many years to come. Are we just gonna have to live with the fact that fashion brands waste tons and tons of fantastic fabric each year, and dump it in places where it will end up hurting the environment?
No… fortunately, a new way of dealing with deadstock fabric has emerged. But before we jump into that, let’s first dive a little deeper into what deadstock fabric is, and why it is bad for the environment.
What is deadstock fabric?
Deadstock fabrics haven’t been used in clothing production and are now just waiting around to be chosen. The word deadstock reflects the idea of this stock of fabrics being “dead” in the sense that it is either leftovers or hasn’t been chosen.
There are generally two ways a fabric can turn into deadstock:
- The fabric can be leftovers a brand didn’t use as they had planned to
- The textile miles have not been successful selling this particular fabric, and therefore it turns into waste
There can be several reasons why textiles turn into deadstock. Maybe there is a small error in the fabric, or it has been bleached by sunlight. It can also bee, that the fabric didn’t match the colors wanted by the fashion brands or didn’t match the agreed pattern. Sometimes it is just as simple as fashion brands overestimating how much fabric they need, and end up buying way too much. the excess fabric then turns into deadstock fabric
What happens to deadstock?
You have probably heard that textile waste is a huge problem in the fashion industry. An estimation states that 92 million tonnes of textile waste are created each year globally. This number is only growing.
If we take a look at the US, 85% of the clothes that are thrown out each year end up in landfills or are burned. But what happens to the excess fabrics at the beginning of the clothing supply chain? The fabric that doesn’t even get a chance to be turned into a nice dress or cool t-shirt.
In the best-case scenario, deadstock fabrics are either sold to other brands where they can be reused or recycled into new items. However, that is not always the case.
In many cases, though, deadstock fabrics end up in landfills or are burned. This very unfortunate scenario is sadly very common. You might even have heard about big fashion brands burning leftover fabrics.
Deadstock fabrics is still a big problem in the fashion industry that needs to be dealt with.
Is deadstock fabric sustainable?
There are both sustainable pros and cons when it comes to the use of deadstock fabric. So if we are to answer the question of whether deadstock is sustainable, we also need to look at the downside.
But there are some ways in which the use of deadstock fabric in the clothing industry can be seen as a sustainable practice. Here are three reasons why the use of deadstock fabric in production can be seen as sustainable and eco-friendly:
- It is fabrics which have already been made. It is kinder to the environment because you don’t need to go out and produce new textiles
- When designers use deadstock fabrics they prevent them from ending up in landfills
- Great for smaller brands, often comes in smaller quantities. Also great for limited editions and unique pieces of clothes
It is also important to remember that the use of deadstock alone does not make a brand sustainable. It is also important to look at how the brand is treating its workers along the supply chain and how its overall environmental practice is.
In which ways is deadstock not sustainable?
As you might know, there are two sides to every question. You have to look at both sides of the coin so to speak.
You might have heard that the use of deadstock in clothing production only is sustainably beneficial, but there is more to it than that. So before you run out and purchase from the first brand using deadstock that comes along hold your horses, and make sure you also know about the downsides.
First of all, if it suddenly becomes in fashion to buy deadstock fabrics, the buyers know they can sell the deadstock if they aren’t going to use it, so overconsumption won’t decrease.
Secondly, there is not a lot of transparency about the purchasing of deadstock fabrics. Some brands are buying deadstock fabrics from jobbers who purchase them from small mills. The jobbers then buy the fabrics for a very cheap price and resell the fabrics at a price that is way above the market price. Deadstock has then become a business for some people and a way to make a lot of money.
Does it mean deastock isn’t sustainable?
Not necessarily. There are still brands who are purchasing the deadstock themselves in order to prevent these fabrics from ending up in landfills or getting burned.
But an important lesson here is to check out the brand before you purchase an item just because it says it is made from deadstock textiles. Is the brand being transparent? How are they purchasing their deadstock? These questions are important to ask yourself if you want to find clothes that are truly sustainable.
How do you know if something is deadstock?
The short answer is you cannot necessarily know if a textile is deadstock, but there might be little clues giving it away.
First of all, if a brand can document they are using deadstock fabrics those pieces are, of course, made from deadstock.
But there are other ways that you can use to determine whether something is deadstock. Some deadstock might have errors in the pattern, are bleached around the edges, small wholes, or bad needlework.
Just to be clear it is not all deadstock fabric that will be damaged or have errors. Some might just be unique or leftovers from bigger productions, so you can’t always determine whether the textile is deadstock just by looking at the fabric.
Can you as a consumer buy deadstock fabrics?
There are shops where you can buy deadstock, or overstock as it is usually referred to in stores. However, you should be aware that some places tend to make you pay way too much for bad quality fabric. So make sure you feel the fabric and check it before you buy it.
You don’t want to pay too much for a cheap viscose fabric. Sometimes they will even tell you it is deadstock from well-known brands. But remember, that doesn’t mean the fabric is better.
So if you are purchasing overstock fabrics, choose fabrics you think are unique and beautiful. There are plenty of opportunities to find cheap and amazing overstock fabric, and from a sustainable perspective, it is definitely a great thing to choose deadstock or vintage fabrics.
Examples of brands who are using deadstock
If you have fallen in love with the idea of brands using deadstock I understand. Some brands are actually using leftover fabrics in order to make the industry more sustainable.
So, just to make it easier for you, I collected some of the most sustainable and ethical brands that only use deadstock, so you don’t have to spend time looking for them.
From | The United States
It is quite easy to fall in love with Christy Dawn’s bohemian universe of flowered dresses and vintage-inspired styles. The brand is only using deadstock textiles, is manufactured locally to reduce its carbon footprint, and ensures living wages. So if you are a fan of bohemian vibes and vintage looks this brand is for you.
Check out the brand here
OhSevenDays creates slow fashion from fast fashion’s leftovers. They make small quantity collections in order to minimize waste. Well, minimize the waste of others waste, cause OhSevenDays only uses deadstock fabrics to make their breathtaking styles. If you are a fan of minimalistic fashion, this brand is definitely worth a peek.
Shop the styles here
Made In | The United States
If you are trying to build a conscious closet and want to make your morning routine easier as well (who doesn’t want that right) this brand is for you. A capsule wardrobe is the keyword here, which means you only have a certain amount of items in your wardrobe and then mix and match them. Vetta is an expert at making timeless items with multiple purposes. They even create a full capsule wardrobe package filled with deadstock styles. It literally doesn’t get any easier than that.
Shop the items here
What are other sustainable fabrics?
Maybe you are all pumped up on the benefits right now and the sustainable benefits of using them in clothing production. Or maybe you are wondering whether there are some even more sustainable fabrics out there.
If you are wondering which is the most sustainable fabrics or which is the least sustainable textile you should check out our page with guides to the different textiles used in the fashion industry such as linen, bamboo, and viscose.
You can find all the textiles guides right here, where you can learn more about which fabrics to choose if you are looking for the most sustainable option, and which to avoid.