When it comes to fashion waste, deadstock is the elephant in the room—in more ways than one. Pegged at an estimated $120 billion, the sheer volume of unused inventory looms a hulking shadow over the future of the industry. As an unforeseen pandemic descended upon the year, the timeout from the rigorously-paced fashion calendar offered the industry a chance to hit pause and introspect. While some names are sitting out the spring/summer 2021 cycle in favour of some long-overdue soul-searching, others are marching forward with a renewed focus on making do with what’s already available and rerouting waste from landfills. Scouting solutions for deadstock assumes priority on that agenda, and here’s how designers and labels are ushering in a new era of guilt-free fashion.
The problem with deadstock and leftover fabrics
Contrary to popular perception, deadstock isn’t necessarily rendered unusable because it is defective or damaged. Short-sighted production plans and evolving creative requirements often hold responsibility for the unsold inventory sitting in warehouses. “Deadstock refers to unsold inventory, which often gets accumulated when the projections of sales do not match the actual turnover,” explains Rina Singh, the force behind conscious label Ekà and its new upcycled label Ekà Core. Perhaps the fabric turned out the wrong shade of mauve or maybe the label ended up ordering more than was actually required—when left unused over extended periods of time, the leftover fabric ultimately has its final destination marked as a landfill.