In terms of sustainability, the creation of ‘waste’ is one aspect that fashion brands (and in turn, the environment) would be better off without. But until a winning solution is found, some brands are turning to deadstock fabric as a means to divert textile waste from landfills to create clothes that are a far cry from anything mass-produced — and we’ve found 15 brands who are doing just that. But first, let’s clarify some of the terminology.
What Are Deadstock Fabrics?
In economics, ‘deadstock’ is a term often used to describe inventory that hasn’t been sold and is unlikely to sell in the future.
Similarly, fabric that is considered deadstock is unsold or unused fabric. It is often a by-product from brands who’ve ordered excess fabrics (perhaps to meet production minimums or as a result of overestimating product demand) or from textile mills left with surplus fabrics (this could happen after canceled orders, changed orders — like if the brand decides it wants a different color fabric — or quality defects).
Deadstock fabric can also be obtained from factory scraps or off-cuts and even mills that possess fabrics that failed quality control during the process of production. All of these may be considered pre-consumer sources of deadstock.
Whereas, post-consumer deadstock fabric refers to discarded, damaged and worn-out clothing that has the potential to be reused or recycled.
What Is Deadstock Clothing?
Deadstock clothing is made by brands that use either pre-consumer or post-consumer (or both) forms of textile waste to create new garments. An economically sound resource for smaller and independent labels, deadstock fabric is often cheaper to buy and almost always has no minimum order quantity. (A major benefit for brands that want to produce in small batches!)
It should be noted that some brands that claim to make clothes from deadstock fabric may only use a small percentage of it in their entire range, especially since deadstock can have design limitations. So, it’s worth looking further into any deadstock claims made by brands, most importantly, from larger brands.
Is Deadstock Fabric Sustainable?
Deadstock fabric isn’t without its flaws. Critics point out that deadstock is not the most effective solution to the fashion industry’s overproduction and subsequent waste problem.
For starters, deadstock material can come from factories and mills that intentionally overproduce textiles and sell them to ‘jobbers’ (aka distributors of deadstock fabric). And these jobbers (middlemen) have built a profitable business around selling deadstock fabric, which in turn perpetuates the toxic cycle of overproduction.
However, as Natasha Halesworth of the rework brand The Consistency Project pointed out in a Conscious Style Podcast episode, “There is excess that is almost required anytime you’re producing anything because there are minimums when you make things or make fabrics or anything custom. There’s always going to be a little bit of excess, that we’ll always have to work with…
So there are other types of deadstock that aren’t related to the really high overproduction that we hear about in these like fashion horror stories. Because most times, those garments or fabrics are actually proprietary and destroyed by these brands. That is a huge problem.
Other brands don’t even get to reuse it, because they’re like, well, I don’t want this particular print being made by anyone else. Therefore, we’re going to destroy it in unsustainable ways, and no one will even know it ever exists. That is what’s happening with a lot of technical deadstock.“
Another concern about deadstock is that designers cannot always identify what exactly their deadstock fabric is composed of. So, these fabrics could be made from poorly made synthetics that were dyed using toxic dyes and finishes — an obvious problem in our efforts towards holistic sustainability in the fashion industry.
Consumers should also be wary of greenwashing tactics from brands that are quick to label themselves as zero-waste or attribute the use of deadstock fabric as their sole sustainable initiative.
An honest zero-waste brand would apply other waste-reduction methods in their operations too. And most of all, truthfully disclose how their deadstock materials were obtained.
As Natasha Halesworth pointed out, “The reason why I think there is confusion is because we see a brand that produces new clothing advertising their stuff and saying, oh we use deadstock, sustainable materials — and that’s it. There’s like no talk about well, what does that even mean?
Like did you get this fabric from another designer? There was no communication, no narrative. And that’s really a huge issue. Even if a brand is using deadstock, well, what kind of deadstock? Where are you actually doing that is sustainable?“
That being said, using deadstock fabric can often be more sustainable than making use of virgin materials since it already exists, uses fewer resources, and therefore can carry a lower carbon footprint.
To help you identify sustainable deadstock clothing, we found 15 green-minded brands that are putting in a genuine effort at turning deadstock fabric into some stylish clothing that won’t have you looking like you’ve worn a patchwork quilt!
Where to Buy Deadstock Clothing:
Note that this roundup includes affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through one of these links. As always we only feature brands that meet high standards for sustainability and are brands we truly love — and that we think you’ll love too!
1. Christy Dawn
Honoring mother earth is at the very core of everything Christy Dawn does as a brand. One of their noteworthy pursuits is a farm-to-closet initiative that they’re working on in collaboration with Oshadi Collective, a textile company in Southern India to create sustainable clothing from regenerative textiles.
Using deadstock fabrics is yet another way in which the brand contributes to their overarching goal of caring for mother nature by giving cast-off fabrics a second life. Each style within their deadstock collection is limited, with pieces often being limited to only one or two of a kind — making each piece feel extraordinarily unique.
Deadstock materials: Cotton, Linen, Leather, Rayon and Silk
Tonlé is a zero waste fashion brand that’s fully committed to using deadstock materials in their collection. The brand sources their fabrics from remnant markets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where pre-consumer textile waste from large garment factories is collected and resold.
Even the smallest of scraps leftover on their cutting room floor are twice-recycled by being further cut and individually sewn into yarn that is handwoven and knit into new pieces. To make things even more interesting, any leftover fabric waste is mixed with their used paper from pattern making to create new handmade paper. Now, that’s what you call a true zero-waste brand!
Deadstock materials: Rayon, Linen, Cotton and Jersey
Made in LA, Whimsy and Row designs gorgeous everyday styles using a mix of eco-friendly materials and deadstock fabric. In their efforts to be completely zero-waste, they reuse every scrap of waste collected during the production process and turn them into practical accessories like bandanas and scrunchies.
On the off-chance that they encounter scraps that can’t be repurposed, the brand hands those away to Marimole, a textile recycling company in NYC.
Deadstock materials: Rayon, Viscose and Cotton
4. Bastet Noir
All of the discarded fabrics Bastet Noir uses comes from production factories around North Macedonia that are produced by a community of single mothers. The brand reinvests its profits to fund the growth of these single moms by supporting them with the education of their children in a country where their monthly income is less than $300.
In an effort to abide by a zero-waste policy, Bastet Noir runs on a strictly made-to-order business model to ensure no inventory is left behind.
Deadstock materials: Cupro Silk, Cotton, Cashmere, Linen, Wool and Silk
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Based out of Istanbul, Turkish brand OhSevenDays prides itself on making slow fashion styles from deadstock leftovers. When the brand started, it relied on sourcing from jobbers but has since graduated to obtaining its deadstock materials directly from the fabric mills themselves.
The brand has now cultivated relationships with OEKO-TEX® certified fabric mills that offer them leftover fabrics with impressive sustainable certifications.
OhSevenDays also sells a range of ‘Zero Waste Misfits’ that bear the markings of faulty deadstock fabrics like a missable stain, scratch or mark that are sold at a slightly discounted price — for the brand believes that even their minor faulted items deserve a home.
Deadstock materials: Cotton, TENCEL™, Linen and Rayon
An LA-based brand of Bolivian-American Brown Latina origin, Wasi creates colorful, easy everyday styles using vintage and deadstock yardage which makes their production run limited with low quantity stock to avoid overproducing.
Wasi clothing is a love letter to Bolivian culture that is aimed at creating a safe space for people of color and allies to shop. The brand values ‘worth’ above all else, and ensures that its BIPOC employees are paid ethically and fairly.
Deadstock materials: Organic cotton and Cotton jersey
This Aussie-based brand uses deadstock material obtained from other designers and fabric warehouses in up to 90% of their designs. 20% of those are made from vintage clothing where they restore post-consumer pieces by re-cutting, hand-dyeing and repairing them to create one-of-a-kind styles. They also operate on a made-to-order model to help them create only what is needed.
All the Wild Roses is also a Certified B Corporation®; a stamp of approval that assures the brand has met some of the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal accountability to balance purpose and profit.
Deadstock materials: Rayon, Linen and Cotton
Ease of wear, the longevity of quality and intelligent use of resources, are the three guiding design principles that Dorsu operates on. This is easily reflected in their range of easy everyday styles of clothing that are sourced from the remnants of Cambodia’s ubiquitous garment industry.
Dorsu does not only source its deadstock fabric from Cambodia but produces it there as well, making use of its vertically integrated supply chain to provide quality clothing that has been produced fairly.
Deadstock materials: Cotton jersey
Summery resort styles worthy of being packed for your next tropical getaway, Doodlage revives the age-old patchwork technique of mending scraps together to create wearable styles.
Based out of India, Doodlage revives pre-consumer and post-consumer deadstock materials to create trans-seasonal clothes designed for longevity.
Any leftover waste from their production process is then segregated and converted into accessories, soft furnishing products and paper to make their packaging or stationery.
Deadstock materials: Cotton, Polyester-Cotton blends, Rayon and Linen
As its name suggests, The Consistency Project is dedicated to consistently bringing new life to reclaimed and pre-existing materials to create and consume with purpose.
With an overarching goal of breaking the stigma around secondhand clothing, this NY-based label creates colorful, genderless clothing made from deadstock fabric using traditional patchwork processes.
Learn more about founder Natasha Halesworth’s mission and her take on deadstock on the Conscious Style podcast.
Deadstock materials: Cotton
Ethically manufactured, everyday styles made to fit XS to 6XL, Altar is a size-inclusive slow fashion brand that uses deadstock material to create limited edition clothes in small production runs.
In addition to using reclaimed materials, Altar also ensures it practices zero-waste production protocols throughout its design stages. All sorts of leftover scraps are then repurposed into masks, headbands, scrunchies and in-seam pockets.
Deadstock materials: Cotton, Silk and Rayon blends
Demure, feminine, and ladylike is perhaps the best way to describe the styles made by Kalaurie — which reinforce the belief that deadstock clothing can be beautiful too. This Melbourne-based label works on a made-to-order basis creating trans-seasonal capsule collections that never go on sale, unlike traditional seasonal collections.
The deadstock fabrics and trims they use are discarded by other brands and factories for several reasons including; overstocking, no longer “in-season”, unwanted colors or ending up being irrelevant to their future collections.
When sourcing deadstock materials, Kalaurie also maintains a passionate focus on fabrics that are biodegradable and made from renewable resources.
Deadstock materials: Cotton and Silk
13. Bug Clothing
Timeless styles made with a conscience, Bug clothing is a London-based brand that sources deadstock fabric from designer factory waste or from a supplier who strictly sources from textile mills that run on renewable energy sources.
Since they can’t be sure of the fabric composition of their deadstock materials, the brand makes it a point to only source natural fiber blends of either linen or cotton and sometimes both.
Deadstock materials: Linen and Cotton
Portuguese brand Naz creates understated everyday clothing using materials that are divided into three categories: ecological, recycled and surplus. With the latter occupying a large chunk of their range, Naz sources its deadstock fabric from textile factories that have overestimated their needs.
For its customers in Portugal, Spain, and Germany, NAZ also offers a Sell 1 Buy 1 program where you can trade in used items from their selection of brands and receive credit for making future purchases on their site.
Deadstock materials: Linen, Cotton, Lyocell and Cupro
15. Grant Blvd
A brand rooted in activism, Grant Blvd creates cool streetwear pieces made from deadstock fabrics for their Atelier Grant Blvd Line of clothing.
Find everything from chic satin slip dresses to joggers and sweatshirts that will quickly turn you into a deadstock clothing convert.
When the brand isn’t busy creating covetable styles, they give 2% of their annual sales revenue to support non-profit organisations that fight for criminal systems reform.
Deadstock materials: Cotton, Rayon, TENCEL™, Satin, and Wool twill