Trying to find alternative solutions against amassing huge quantities of deadstock is a problem the industry has to face and solve as soon as possible.

During the April 2023 edition of Kingpins Amsterdam, Material Exchange, majority shareholder of the show and a company gathering together industry professionals specialised in the process of sourcing materials for footwear and apparel, has launched Deadstock Depot, a new project that aims to promote an alternative use of deadstock in fashion. 

As explained by Material Exchange in its blog, excess orders of fabrics and accessories that don’t end up in the final product line, often due to over-ordering, overproduction, or a specific product being discontinued, is urgently requesting a solution. 

While the industry has to manage with always more anticipated production and order deadlines combined with unexpected world events like pandemics, war, and unstable markets, it’s difficult to project just how much of a material will be required for an upcoming collection. 

So, instead of becoming a T-shirt, a sweater, or a pair of sneakers in someone’s wardrobe, what remains is left unfinished in the abyss of a warehouse or design stockroom. There are many such warehouses around the world storing huge quantities of deadstock materials and trims to the tune of more than an estimated US$ 120 billion according to Material Exchange.

After a period of time laying untouched on warehouse shelves, deadstock is eventually carted off to be burned or to pile up in landfills – landfills bloated with all that needs to be thrown “away.”

That “away” is quickly growing to become a problem for all of us as the space left on Earth is already at a premium and unfortunately, our waste is only growing. In fact, by the end of 2023 an estimated 92 million tons of unwanted fabric will be disposed, an amount that is the equivalent of dumping a trash truck full of material every second.

An alternative to such a huge and always increasing problem can be found in sourcing deadstock.

During last Kingpins Amsterdam, attendees were able to find a wide collection of deadstock fabrics available for immediate purchase without going through the process of producing new, custom fabric. Through that same service, insiders and visitors were also be able to access data about the materials’ availability, all in one place.

Aim of the project is to help lower the amassing how huge textile deadstock, limit global warming to 1.5 °C as requested by the Paris Agreement of 2015, and encourage reusing old fabric stocks for new limited edition or capsule collections, for instance.

Besides the environmental benefits of using these fabric leftovers to create apparel and footwear, there are some other reasons this sourcing method can be a sound business strategy as fabrics and accessories are available at a quick turn-around; their costs are significantly lower than otherwise; their minimum order quantity is more flexible, allowing for small-batch, limited-edition drop sourcing.

Moreover, there is a reduced impact of Scope 3 – that is, the impacts placed on purchased goods and services – since the water, chemical, and energy inputs needed to produce new fabric don’t apply.

Deadstock could be a win-win solution–and more and more brands are coming to this same conclusion. From small lifestyle brands like Whimsy + Row to high-end designers like Gabriela Hearst, deadstock has gone from a hush-hush topic within the industry to a badge of pride for sustainability.

Sure, in a perfect world, the best solution would be to avoid creating deadstock at all through improved forecasting around the fabric that’s needed in the first place – and creating fewer materials should be one of the top priorities for the fashion industry. But until those changes happen, the industry could take advantage of what’s already available.

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