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Deadstock fabric: sustainable or greenwashing

Over the past few years, deadstock fabric has found its way into Instagram hashtags, proud captions and product descriptions on fashion websites.

Many companies are saying (more or less explicitly) that, because they use deadstock fabric, their collections are automatically sustainable, but is this true or is it greenwashing?

What is deadstock fabric

Deadstock fabrics are essentially fashion industry leftovers that would normally have been thrown away after a certain amount of time. The term itself refers to fabric that, for one reason or another, fashion companies just haven’t been able to sell or use. It could be that the garments or fabric had small imperfections or damages. It could be that the company that ordered it, overestimated their needs. Whatever the reason, the fabric is considered “deadstock.” When you use deadstock fabrics you reduce waste, have lower carbon footprint and have unique fabrics. A big downside is that you often don’t have many information on the fabric and no traceability.

Sustainable or greenwashing?

There is still some debate as to whether or not deadstock fabric is actually sustainable or just another form of greenwashing. On one hand the theory is that any extra fabric not “rescued” by eco-friendly brands will automatically be thrown into a landfill. However, there are some claims that clothing mills are actually intentionally overproducing garments. All this “deadstock fabric” can then be sold off to eco-friendly companies that think they are doing the world a favour by saving the extra fabric, but that overstock fabric was always meant to be used by somebody.

The fact that so many companies are opting to use deadstock fabric is still a good sign. It means that at least a portion of the fashion industry is becoming sensible of the environmental cost of doing business. And are doing their part to make consumers aware of the unique options available outside of conventional fashion.

My opinion

Personally I am a fan of deadstock fabrics, definitely the sustainable side of giving these fabrics a second life is a huge plus but the absolute cherry on the cake, is that you get access to stunning fabrics from designers and high-end luxury brands. My favourite address, where I can spend hours searching for deadstock fabrics, is The Fabric Sales. Their products are entirely sourced from designer's deadstock. From buttons to linings, they never produce their own but instead resell the already existing ones. I have bought fabrics from Ines de Fressange or Dries van Noten. They also have Zero Waste Packs that are smaller left overs that are ideal for smaller items.

So in my opinion it all depends on how transparent the company who sells deadstock is: make sure you’re buying from trustworthy brands that are open about their suppliers and products and sell genuine leftover materials to save them from landfills. It gets even better if those fabrics were produced sustainably in the first place.


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