Thanks to the rush to cash on the ‘sustainability’ wave, brands with the help of designers have found a new way to recharge consumers. The trend for creating new articles from old cloths by reusing, renewing and recycling the old ones is getting great momentum. Active involvement of some of the top brands and designers indicates that there is a conscious effort to redefine fashion. Is making new from old looks going to be the future of fashion?
Everywhere, ‘sustainability’ has become a priority in a post-pandemic world. Using ‘deadstock’, the leftovers from clothes manufacturing, to create something new is appealing and makes sense environmentally. Consumers also appreciate the idea of saving waste fabric from landfill. They are curious to know more about brands that use deadstock in their designs. But there is more to deadstock than it first appears.
For a number of fashion houses, ‘deadstock’ is more likely to refer to unused and unworn items rediscovered by a vintage dealer with a good eye and set of contacts with old warehouses where such goods are kept. For sustainability, using deadstock is obviously better than producing something from scratch but there is a strong feeing that brands might actually be using what is called “available stock” – the extra fabric generally produced by manufacturers along with orders with the idea that this too will be sold.
Traditionally, “deadstock” used to mean fabric unsold/unused by the manufacturer. However, ‘unsold’ stock should not be confused with ‘unsellable’ goods. Fashion experts opine that “with no clear regulation on terminology, brands are able to call deadstock, stock that is dead to them because nobody purchased it, rather than unsellable goods. This is controversial territory. Terminology can redress misused concepts as much as reinforce others.”
This is likely to create controversy. It is, therefore, suggested to use a more respectable term – “upcycling”. There are leading designers who are giving fashion a spin by repurposing vintage clothing and fabric. Some reports suggest they use clothes sourced from a secondhand market in Accra. This shows what happens to huge volumes of unwanted clothes the west sends to Africa, before many of them end up in landfill. The media reports have claimed that not just high-end designers, a cluster of smaller labels are utilizing these techniques to make new clothes out of old.
The “upcycling” fashion industry is growing rapidly, specially in Europe where businesses engaged in converting old to new goods are being encouraged by government support and financial aid. Also, such businesses get huge media attention which acts as free advertisements for them. It is not just high-end designers. A cluster of smaller labels are utilizing these techniques to make new clothes out of old. They deconstruct and reassemble all garments for selling as ‘new in the market. According to media reports, Berlin based high-end brand Fade Out Label, uses 70% vintage clothing to make new pieces, with dresses and tops priced at about EUR200 (£180). Owners justify the price for environmental reasons and also for aesthetics. They claim that the vintage denim and fabrics, which they recycle, influence the uniqueness of each piece.
A new breed of designers is getting ready for the industry who specialize in converting old un/used or vintage or deadstock materials into New Fashion to combat the ills of Fast Fashion! There can be no two opinions about the fact that to make a real difference in terms of fashion’s impact on the environment, we need a multiplicity of approaches. But “the reuse, renew, recycle opportunities” from the vintage or dead stock of clothes must be responsibly and honestly used.