12 Jul

17 Sustainable Brands Using Leftover Fabric to Reduce Their Environmental Impact

Fabric waste is a massive problem in the fashion industry, with mountains of clothes being sent to landfills or burned every year. And shockingly, less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing. Something going on alongside the massive overproduction of apparel—we’re talking 100 billion new garments produced each year—is the surplus of leftover or “deadstock” fabric at production mills, which some brands are now buying and incorporating into their designs. But here’s where it gets murky on the sustainability front—while using up fabric that might otherwise be treated as waste is certainly a good thing, the very existence of deadstock fabric can be attributed to the damaging fast fashion business model, where overproduction is par for the course. And chances are it was never going to be thrown away in the first place! So, let’s take a look at the sustainability of using leftover fabric and meet some brands who are doing it the right way.

Is using deadstock fabric a sustainable option?

The short answer is: yes and no.

Deadstock is known by a few names, with “overstock”, “surplus fabric”, and “remnant” being the most common. It might come from other brands who ordered too much fabric, from mills producing incorrect colours or damaged or flawed fabric, or from cancelled orders.

And while this “waste” fabric is undoubtedly better off in the hands of a small designer who is starting out and needs to access cheaper material, there are growing concerns that mills are intentionally over-producing since they know the excess will be purchased anyway. This purposeful creation of “waste” perpetuates the cycle of overproduction and overconsumption and is something to be wary of when making purchases. Transparency is key here, but currently, in most places there is no legal requirement for mills to disclose why they rejected the fabric in the first place—which leaves both brands and shoppers in the dark.

But that’s not to say deadstock is always a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In our current system and until the issue is addressed at an industry level, supporting otherwise ethical brands that use leftover fabric in their designs is a good option. That is, as long as they implement other meaningful waste-reduction and climate change-fighting strategies into their business!

How Good On You rates deadstock

When we chatted to our Head of Ratings, Kristian Hardiman, about recycled fabric in our Ultimate Guide to Recycled Clothing Materials, he mentioned that while we currently reward brands for using deadstock fabric in our ratings system, “in an ideal, more circular world, there would not be any deadstock material, and waste would be minimised, with more value placed on the material.” The reality is too much virgin material is produced when there is already more than enough in the world, but until our production and recycling systems improve, your best bet as ever is to:

  1. Use what you have
  2. Go for second hand
  3. Purchase high-quality products from ethical brands using eco-friendly materials (recycled or not)
  4. Take care of your garments and use them for as long as possible
  5. Dispose of them thoughtfully

So, while deadstock fabric will hopefully become obsolete in future as we move towards a more circular fashion industry, right now, using it up is our best option. Below are some ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ rated brands using deadstock or leftover fabric in their designs that are worth your support.

17 sustainable brands using leftover or deadstock fabric in their garments or packaging

EllA fashion

Rated: Good
woman wearing ella fashion dress

Rated ‘Good’, EllA creates considered, quality garments for women, proudly manufactured in Australia. With clean designs cut to ride with the body, EllA focuses on transeasonal garments for endless wear.

See the rating.

Shop EllA fashion.

All the Wild Roses

Rated: Good

All the Wild Roses offers bohemian fashion for the dreamers and change-makers. This Australian brand uses up to 50% deadstock fabric to create high quality and long-lasting products. Find most items in sizes XS to 2 XL.

See the rating.

Shop All the Wild Roses.

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great

Offers

Two people wearing loose pink eco tops by Christy Dawn making a triangle with their arms on a beach.

Christy Dawn – Women’s Clothing

Vintage-style, sustainably-made clothing that is effortlessly elevated and feminine. Gratitude sale: 30% off women's collection. (US only) (Ends: 2 DEC)

Shop now
Three people laying in a field of grass wearing ethically made dresses by Christy Dawn.

Christy Dawn – Dresses

Timeless, versatile dresses you'll reach for day after day. Each piece is made using upcycled fabric and sewn in Los Angeles. Gratitude sale: 40% off Dawn Dresses. (US only) (Ends: 2 DEC)

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Christy Dawn is a minimalist showroom for vintage-inspired women's clothing and footwear, locally made with surplus fabric. The US brand rates 'Great', making it a fabulous boho option for your wardrobe. Find the clothes in standard sizes XS-XL, or shop the Extended and Petite collections.

See the rating.

Shop Christy Dawn.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good

Offers

Person wearing dark blue sustainable oversized denim jacket by Whimsy + Row.

Whimsy + Row – Outerwear

Easy, flirty, and elegant jackets and coats ethically made for every modern and creative woman. Green Friday Sale! Up to 75% off selected jackets. (Ends: 29 NOV)

Shop now
Person wearing blood orange flared pants and bandana top by Whimsy + Row.

Whimsy + Row – Bottoms

From jeans to flowy loungewear-inspired trousers, skirts of all lengths to bike shorts: what more could you ask for? Green Friday Sale! Up to 75% off selected bottoms. (Ends: 29 NOV)

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Person wearing grey knitted dress ethically made by Whimsy + Row.

Whimsy + Row – Dresses

Hello, effortless chic! Made out of the best eco-friendly fabrics, these dresses will become your go-to. Green Friday Sale! Up to 75% off selected dresses. (Ends: 29 NOV)

Shop now
Person wearing brown and white printed sustainable blouse by Whimsy + Row.

Whimsy + Row – Tops

Like finding a vintage gem, Whimsy + Row tops use deadstock fabric to create unique looks you will treasure. Green Friday Sale! Up to 75% off selected tops. (Ends: 29 NOV)

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Whimsy + Row is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and sustainable practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern, sustainable woman. Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, and by limiting each garment to short runs, the brand also reduces packaging waste and takes care of precious water resources. Find most products in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.

Shop Whimsy + Row @ Earthkind.

The R Collective

Rated: Great
women wearing blue the r collective trenches

The R Collective's womenswear collections are made by reusing rescued excess materials from leading luxury brands and reputable manufacturers. The brand uses a high-proportion of eco-friendly materials, which limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production. It also ensures the payment of a living wage in its supply chain, which is why we rated it 'Great'! The garments are offered in two sizes: XS-S and M-L.

See the rating.

Shop The R Collective.

Shop The R Collective @ ourCommonplace.

Altar

Rated: Good

Offers

Altar – Dresses

Designed to enhance each body shape, these items have all the effortless appeal that you look for in a dress 30% off dresses with code BFCMPANIC. (Ends: 30 NOV)

Checkout code: BFCMPANIC
Shop now

Altar – Tops

Wrap yourself in these sustainably made flattering tops, stretched enough to give you the most comfortable fit. 30% off tops with code BFCMPANIC. (Ends: 30 NOV)

Checkout code: BFCMPANIC
Shop now

Altar – Jumpsuits

All-in-one garments that can be dressed up or down, worn across all seasons, and always look flattering. 30% off jumpsuits with code BFCMPANIC. (Ends: 30 NOV)

Checkout code: BFCMPANIC
Shop now

Altar – Swimwear

One-of-a-kind swimsuits and bikinis, imbued with love and character and produced with a zero-waste approach. 30% off swimwear with code BFCMPANIC. (Ends: 30 NOV)

Checkout code: BFCMPANIC
Shop now

Altar is a US-based boutique that specializes in alternative and custom fashion, apothecary, and gifts. The brand celebrates independent manufacturers and artists from across North America, with a focus on the stories that are woven into their work. Its clothing brand, Altar Houseline, is proudly made in America using deadstock materials and serves size gradations from size S to 6XL.

See the rating.

Shop Altar.

tonlé

Rated: Good
woman wearing tonle white sustainable jumper

tonlé provides environmentally-friendly women's clothing with a zero-waste design process. To do so, the brand uses remnant fabrics from large manufacturers as well as recycled threads and reclaimed wood from local suppliers for its trim and accessories. Its range is inclusively sized from XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop tonlé.

BEEN London

Rated: Great

BEEN London is a London-based brand turning waste into timeless accessories you’d want to use every day. All their products are made of materials that have been something else in a previous life, including recycled leather offcuts and plastic bottles.

See the rating.

Shop BEEN London.

Shop BEEN London @ Staiy.

Citizen Wolf

Rated: Great

Citizen Wolf uses revolutionary technology to give you high-quality custom fit t-shirts. It's so confident in its t-shirts that it guarantees they’ll be the best you’ve ever worn! After capturing your customisations, the brand hand makes each tee in Sydney from certified sustainable fabrics like cotton, hemp, and Merino wool milled in Melbourne.

See the rating.

Shop Citizen Wolf.

Näz

Rated: Good
sustainable navy jumpsuit by Naz

Näz is a Portuguese fashion brand that aims to make fashion look good, not only on you, but on the planet too. It uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including GOTS certified organic cotton, and traces most of its supply chain. Most garments available in sizes S-L.

See the rating.

Shop Näz.

Dorsu

Rated: Great

Based in Cambodia, Dorsu creates everyday basics and key signature favourites that form the core of any conscious wardrobe. You can find the full range in XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop Dorsu.

ARIELLE

Rated: Good

ARIELLE is a US-based sustainable apparel label committed to organic, recycled and zero-waste fabrics, local manufacturing, fair-trade supply chain and plastic-free packaging and production. It makes covetable clothes with no compromise to people or planet and carries a size range of XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop ARIELLE.

Kalaurie

Rated: Great

Stunning designs, beautifully made, to the highest ethical standards—Kalaurie is one of those labels that gives you a rush of excitement when you first find it. This is a Melbourne brand that makes capsule collections, with an emphasis on signature shirt tailoring. There are so many reasons to love Kalaurie, and it rates highly in all three categories! The pieces are available in 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Kalaurie.

The Social Outfit

Rated: Great

Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, the Social Outfit has a social mission to employ and train workers from refugee and new migrant communities. You can be confident your purchase is directly contributing to a better life for minorities who need it most. Each piece tells an amazing human story, as the team taps into the creativity and diversity of these amazing people and collaborates with them to create new designs each season. Find styles in 2XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop the Social Outfit.

Deadwood

Rated: Good

Celebrating ageless rebellion and free-spiritedness, Stockholm-based Deadwood creates recycled leather clothes, aiming to reinvent how we think about fashion. It recycles cut-offs created during the manufacturing process and traces suppliers in all of its supply chain. Find the garments in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Deadwood @ Labell-D.

Shop Deadwood.

Dressarte Paris

Rated: Good

Dressarte Paris is a custom-made clothing label that curates unique clothing for a worldwide clientele. It sources luxurious surplus and eco-friendly fabrics to create a wonderfully chic sustainable wardrobe. Its products are made to order where you can choose from existing sizes, or enter in your own measurements for a custom order that not only minimises textile waste but celebrates all sizes!

See the rating.

Shop Dressarte Paris.

Taiyo

Rated: Good
womena wearing red sustainable taiyo scarf

Taiyo is a philosophy-first womenswear brand dropping one look at a time. The brand uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including recycled materials and manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint.

See the rating.

Shop Taiyo @ Immaculate Vegan.

Shop Taiyo @ Rêve en Vert.

Editor's note

Feature image via Altar, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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