What is dead stock fabric?
Deadstock fabric – you might be asking yourself what on earth that means…. Well we’re on hand to explain. In essence, when brands and designers produce garments there is often surplus fabric left over and this is where the majority of deadstock fabric comes from.
Alternatively, it can also come from fabric has been dyed the wrong colour or when fabric mills have surplus quantity which they’ve been unable to sell.
Now, traditionally this left-over fabric would often be sent to landfill or burnt, as it is often in smaller quantities, so not seen as useful. The limited lengths make it difficult for larger brands to utilise deadstock fabric as only a smaller number of garments can be made from it.
However, this provides a great opportunity for smaller designers and brands (such as us) to produce bespoke or smaller runs of garments and home textile products, saving these fabrics from landfill or being burnt, and in turn supporting the circular economy. Often it is pre-consumer waste, meaning it has never been used, and is in perfect condition.
As a consumer, this is a great choice if you are looking to invest in more sustainable products and reduce your personal impact. A significant amount of time and resource goes into making fabric, from the water, chemical and energy usage, and the emission generated, so it is incredibly wasteful if this material never reaches its end use.
The water required to make one cotton t-shirt is estimated to be around 594 gallons, that’s 2700 litres (WWF, 2019), so just think of all the water which could be saved by making use of the fabric which already exists!
Furthermore, decomposing fabric has a further environmental cost, generating harmful gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, as they break down. And it’s a process that can take a really long time, with synthetic fibres like polyester taking up to 200 years to decompose in landfill.
It’s not a perfect solution
However, as with everything, deadstock fabric does have its limitations. Unfortunately, it means that you don’t have control over the raw materials which the fabric is made from, and often what is available is made from less eco-friendly choices such as cotton and polyester.
It also means you have little visibility of where the fabric has come from and how it was produced, both from an ethical and sustainability standpoint.
Fabric mills can often overproduce fabric due to the time and cost taken to set up for a new run of fabric, resulting in this ‘deadstock’, which isn’t always so accidental.
But maybe the issue isn’t so much how the fabric came into existence, but more what happens to it now? If is destined for landfill or incineration, then it’s better to repurpose this and give it a new purpose.
Overall, I believe deadstock fabric is a sound choice for brands and consumers trying to make a more sustainable choice. As with any solution it isn’t perfect, but it is supporting circularity, and reducing waste, which in my mind can only be a good thing.