Deadstock fabric or also known as end of the roll fabric, is what's left over from big orders that can't be made into full collections. It's one of the remnants of fast fashion. Previously, it was a way for hobbyists to get fabric for less. As demand grows today (and price!), smaller brands have begun to use it as an effort to reduce possible landfill waste.
Here's how it works: the mainstream textile industry encourages designers to buy in quantity, which could help to reduce their cost per metre. It works well for large brands that produce thousands of the same design. Typically, this is sourced from huge trade shows or directly from manufacturers. Jumping ahead a little, once the pattern (template of the garment) is at the factory, workers will then cut and sew the designs. Sometimes, multiple factories are involved in just one piece, especially if there are special elements like hardware or embroidery. When a roll of fabric is cut, there is often excess material, sometimes in quite large quantities. These are known as 'off-cuts'.
An academic paper written in the early 2000's named "From 15% to 0: Investigating the creation of fashion without the creation of fabric waste", claims that 15% of fibre intended for apparel actually ends up on the cutting room floor. And with over 60% of garments being made of synthetic materials, including plastic-blends, it's pretty obvious these unwanted swathes were not being recycled. So it's really not that surprising that the clothing business is the world's second largest polluter, where oil companies remain at the top. That was a surprising statistic when I first read that. How can an innocent mini dress be so close to an ocean killing, tree cutting, earth-splitting industry? Aside from slick marketing, the truth is that the two are very much intertwined. Just consider that material like acrylic, polyester and acetate are fossil fuel fabrics.
If all of this doesn't point to the culture of disposable fashion being truly problematic, I don't know what is! Perhaps more alarmingly, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe or UNECE for short, found that fashion also accounts for 20% of global water waste. Unfortunately, everything has a knock on effect. The good news is that we don't need to be too overwhelmed. We know the situation as it stands and thanks to social media amplifying consumer voices, we're able to actually do something about it.
Why is it different to 'normal fabric'?
End of the roll textiles are no different to the regular fabric you can get anywhere else, which means even though it is a more eco-friendly option for many brands and individuals, the cloth itself can be anything from recycled cotton to a polyester satin! Mind, we aren't talking about off-cuts, this is harder to get hold of but hopefully, it'll be accessible in the future.
Is deadstock fabric sustainable?
Well, due to the fact that the material can still be a fossil fuel fabric or its original manufacturing involved heavy use of toxic chemicals, some activists say it's not as sustainable as some companies make it out to be. Whilst this is true, overall I have to disagree. Buying deadstock for Fleurose is the equivalent of us sourcing preloved fabric, as you would buy a secondhand handbag or a vintage coat. The original designers obviously loved it enough to have used it but no longer have a need for such a minute quantity. However, it must be noted that simply utilising deadstock with very little emphasis on social responsibility and quality, aren't the markings of a conscious label.
We like deadstock fabric because not only does it make a product feel limited edition, but it allows us to move with customer demand. The problem with fast fashion is that it relies on marketing to sell unfathomable amounts that's pre-ordered months ahead, all based on an Excel sheet. Or even worse - demanded to be produced within two weeks thanks to a social media trend! If we get less than excellent feedback on a fabric choice or we know a colourway isn't selling as well, we don't have any waste. We simply produce what we need.
Where can I get it?
Thanks to the surge of interest in sustainability and calls for excessive consumerism to calm the hell down, there are lots of independent suppliers of deadstock material. In fact, it's leaving its niche and stepping into the spotlight, with expos dedicated to sustainable fabrics and even an online stockist, Amo Threads. In the past, we've looked to our own collections (R trained as a bespoke tailor and my mum comes from a family of tailors, we always had material lying around the house). We've also sourced from high quality fabric shops, like The Cloth House or shopped with boutique suppliers via Etsy for one of a kind designs.
Thanks for reading this rather lengthy post about deadstock fabric, if you have any questions about our products, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram @fleuroselondon.