One-of-a-Kind Sustainability: What are Deadstock Fabrics?
With the push for environmentally friendly materials and methods within the fashion and textile industries, many fashion brands are searching for more sustainable alternatives to purchasing traditional fabric. That’s where deadstock fabric comes in.
What is deadstock fabric?
Deadstock fabrics are the “leftovers” of the fashion industry. These are fabrics that ended up either not going to the intended buyer at all or not being made into finished garments. Historically, most of these deadstock fabrics would be simply thrown away, eventually making their way into landfills.
However, many deadstock fabrics are perfectly usable and high-quality fabrics that it would be a shame to toss! Thankfully, sustainability-focused small brands and independent designers are jumping at the opportunity to rescue these fabrics from the landfill and incorporate them into their collections, getting these fabrics into the hands of customers.
Types of deadstock fabrics
There are two main types of deadstock fabrics – fabric mill production surplus and deadstock designer fabrics.
Fabric mill production surplus
Fabric mill production surplus is excess fabric that is created by the mill but never makes it to the intended customer. There are many reasons that a factory may end up with surplus fabric.
- The fabric has a defect, such as a printing or dyeing error. If the fabric was not created to the original customer’s specifications, they will likely reject the purchase and this fabric will become waste for the factory to dispose of. The defect may be as minor as the print not being at the intended spacing or the color being slightly off, meaning the fabric might be completely functional and perfect for a different brand.
- The customer cancels their order. Sometimes a customer may change their mind about purchasing fabric after the mill has already begun producing their order. When this happens, the factory will be left with undamaged, non-defective fabric that is of no use to them.
- The mill includes excess fabric on top of the order “just in case.” Often, a fabric mill will plan to produce a small percentage of additional fabric on top of the ordered quantity to compensate for possible errors through the production process. This leaves them with potentially perfectly usable fabric once the customer receives their fabric.
Deadstock designer fabrics
Deadstock designer fabrics are fabrics that have made it past the fabric mill and into the hands of the customer, the fashion brand, but were not made into garments as planned. Typically, deadstock designer fabric refers to fabric that was intended for use by luxury brands – so these are high-end, quality fabrics. There are several reasons a brand may decide to discard unused fabric, rather than make it into clothing.
- There was excess fabric at the end of the season. Since many high-end brands change their entire lineup of garments each season, if they didn’t make and sell as many garments as planned there will be leftover fabric once they move on to their next collection.
- The brand nixed a garment design at the last minute. Occasionally, a brand may have plans for a certain design and get it all the way to the point of ordering fabric before deciding to remove that design from their collection. This results in completely untouched, high-quality fabric.
Are deadstock fabrics sustainable?
There is some debate surrounding the topic of sustainability as it relates to deadstock fabrics.
What makes FabricSight special is the relationship we keep with our mills and suppliers. Although some of the deadstock available in the market are usually originated from a mass-production fabric mill, which is not a sustainable or ethical source for fabric, this is not the case of our Selected Surplus, or FabricSight’s deadstock:
We rely on sustainability also, and especially, on our Zero Waste philosophy: all our mills, that in fact have certifications for their fabrics to prove their sustainability, end up sometimes having deadstock as over-productions for other brands or collections samples. These first quality fabrics that would normally be landfilled, are accessible for our customers: why producing more if what you need has already been produced?
Should you use deadstock fabrics?
Deadstock fabrics can be a great option for emerging brands, small and medium sized fashion brands, and indie designers – but are they right for you and your business?
Why use deadstock fabrics?
First, what are the benefits of using deadstock fabrics in your fashion line?
- It’s a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative. As we’ve mentioned, using deadstock fabrics helps to reduce textile waste, making it a great option for environmentally conscious brands.
- It’s a good focal point for advertising. Every fashion line needs something unique to talk about in their marketing efforts to connect with the right customers. Using sustainable deadstock fabrics gives your business an edge when it comes to marketing.
- It’s a cost-effective option. Purchasing deadstock fabrics is usually much less expensive than if you were to buy the same fabric through traditional methods, such as made-to-order fabric production mills.
- There’s no minimum order quantity (MOQ). Since deadstock fabric is already produced and there is only a limited quantity available, it is usually not subject to a MOQ, even if you get it directly from the fabric mill. This is great for smaller brands that can’t afford to invest in large quantities of fabric up front.
- It’s one-of-a-kind. Since deadstock fabrics are often the result of production errors or cancelled custom orders, they are likely to be unique, one-of-a-kind fabrics that your customers won’t find elsewhere.
Limitations of deadstock fabrics
While deadstock fabrics are a great option for many small and emerging brands, there are some downsides to using them in your fashion line.
- You don’t know much about the fabric. When you purchase deadstock fabrics, especially if you purchase directly from a fabric mill, you usually won’t get much information on the origins of the fabric. However, here at FabricSight we offer you all the certifications available in the fabrics for you to make sure about the sustainability of our fabrics.
- You’re limited to a certain quantity of fabric. Since deadstock fabric is not reorderable, you can’t restock items made from deadstock fabrics long term. You may need to offer garments made from deadstock fabrics as a limited edition or seasonal collection. Also, if you have a larger brand, or your brand suddenly takes off, you may run out of the fabric quickly and not be able to fulfill all your orders.
Sourcing deadstock fabrics
Sourcing your deadstock fabrics carefully can help you avoid quality issues and ensure that you receive the right fabric for your needs.
At FabricSight, we select our deadstock fabrics from premium European mills and stock only top-quality fabrics with no defects. Our focus is on sourcing sustainable deadstock fabrics, many made from natural fibers and recycled materials. We offer a huge range of high-quality, sustainable deadstock fabrics. Because these fabrics are only available in limited quantities, our selection of deadstock fabrics is constantly changing – so check back often if you don’t see what you’re looking for!
4 awesome fashion brands using deadstock fabrics
If you’re looking for some inspiration from brands using deadstock fabrics in their designs – or a source of sustainable clothing for your own wardrobe – these 4 fashion brands are doing it right.
Christy Dawn is an eco-friendly fashion brand committed to not only sustainability but using practices that help to regenerate the environment. They source high-quality deadstock fabrics to create dreamy dresses while reducing waste in the textile industry. Christy Dawn’s pieces are classic, closet staples with a touch of vintage, made in beautiful prints.
Dorsu is a Cambodian fashion brand focused on creating wardrobe essentials using sustainable materials and production methods. All of their pieces are made from comfortable deadstock cotton jersey sourced from factories in Cambodia. Dorsu creates seasonless, versatile pieces that you can layer and wear all year round.
The R Collective is a clothing brand on a mission to eliminate waste in the fashion industry. They create beautiful garments from high-end, luxury deadstock fabrics, diverting these fabrics from the landfill. Fabrics that can’t be reused are still put to good use by the R Collective – they recycle fabrics back into their original fibers and re-spin them into better fabrics.
Tonlé is a sustainable fashion brand committed to creating a zero-waste production system. They aim to use every little piece of fabric, producing clothing, accessories, and home items from deadstock fabrics and offcuts. They use cutting layouts that eliminate as much fabric waste as possible. Any small or unusable pieces of fabric are tuned into yarn and woven into new, unique fabrics. Their designs are versatile, timeless, and comfortable closet staples.