why fashion made with deadstock fabric is really just greenwashing

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We don't want to call anyone out here, but, do a quick google search for companies that promote the use of deadstock and remember this industry insider information before you buy into the hype. 

unused fabric in a millwhat is deadstock fashion? and, what does deadstock mean?

So, what is deadstock? And, what does deadstock mean? Deadstock refers to old fabric that hasn’t been able to sell. Maybe there are small damages, maybe the company who purchased it ordered too much, or maybe there is a small little-known industry secret.

what is the argument for deadstock fabric being eco-friendly?

The thought process goes, that because this fabric is extra, if it is not rescued by “eco” brands it will end up in a landfill. Therefore they are doing the world an environmental justice by making “waste” into fashion.

myth debunked – what’s really happening…

Dying, knitting, weaving, and printing require huge, complex machines. Some ranges can take up entire city blocks, and take multiple people to operate. It takes a lot of man power to turn off the machines, clean them, set them up for the next fabric, and then run a new fabric. It is cheaper for mills to produce extra fabric that they plan to sell at a discount than to shut the machines off after the order is fulfilled. 

This means that in their basic costing, mills plan to sell x percent at full price and y percent at a discounted deadstock price. At no point are they calculating a percent going to the landfill. Remember mills are in the business of making money, not wasting it.

If the mills can't sell the fabric then they will pass it onto a jobber. The most famous of them is probably Mood, based in NYC. Shops like this take the yardage that won't sell at the mill level, mark it up for a premium and sell it to small designers and home sewers. I wouldn't call jobbers eco-friendly, they are just another cog in the fashion supply chain. Again, fashion is a business, that makes money. The last thing that anyone would want is to lose money by sending fabric to a landfill. It would sit in storage for years before that happened. 

so what’s the big deal?

It's a great model for mills, it helps them to run efficiently. But, it is not an ethical model for a clothing brand that markets themselves as eco-friendly – it’s taking advantage of consumers lack of manufacturing knowledge.

By buying deadstock fashion you are buying into the concept of overproduction. And don’t let those greenwashers fool you. Most of the deadstock is meant for local markets, not for export. Rest assured that this fabric was never intended to end up in a landfill, it most likely would end up making lower price clothing for a third world economy.

"Western markets simply don’t matter as much as they used to. India produces twice as much clothing for its own consumers as it does for us. Fifty-six percent of the clothing produced in China is for the Chinese market. Both of those numbers are only going to grow." - Michael Hobbes for The Huffington Post

If you are ok with this kind of environmental b.s. think about this - Deadstock fabric is sold for a heavy discount so mills can get rid of it, fashion companies then mark up the price under the “eco” or "vintage" label so they are doubly inflating their margins, and you the consumer is getting double screwed.

fabric in indian mill

I literally walked through warehouse after warehouse of fabric, but, remember... there is a plan for all this

what are better options to dead stock fabric?

  • if you care about keeping fabric out of landfills, then don’t buy as much - the less clothing you buy the less you will throw away, and the less that will end up in a landfill
  • buy second hand - one man's waste is another's treasure, give new life to a pre owned garment
  • buy directly from small artisans - who make in small batches so there is no waste

deadstock for small brands - the pros

Deadstock is a great option for brands just starting out. Because the fabric is already made, there are no minimums. This makes it easy for designers that are small and self-funded to buy a few yards, and not have to invest capital into fabric they may not need. 

the craziest deadstock I ever saw...

melanie disalvo in jaipur with dead stock fabric

but first, let me take a selfie - with all of this block printed deadstock fabric

Did you know that there are some US importers that actually sell THIS VERY FABRIC as "vintage"? One meter costs me about 300 rupies (less than $5), and I have seen it sold in NYC for over $500! Buyer beware!


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