What is Deadstock Fabric and Why is it So Special?

Managing waste has become a significant challenge in the textile and apparel sector. This is because there are aspiring fashion designers out there who are looking for elegant fibers to incorporate into their collections but never end up using any of them.

Materials that the various haute couture houses no longer need are stockpiled, and the outcome becomes a surplus of unused textiles.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure regarding deadstock fabric. 

Deadstock fabric is rapidly becoming the fabric of choice for eco-conscious small, medium-sized businesses and independent designers.

What is Deadstock Fabric?

Deadstock Fabric
Deadstock Fabric

Deadstock fabrics, just as the name implies, are unsold and unused fabrics, just as economics refers to deadstock as inventory that has not been sold and is unlikely to sell in the future.

Deadstock fabrics are remnants of high-performance fabrics that can no longer be used for their original purpose.

They are often overproduced fabrics that come in various forms. They range from natural fabrics such as linen to synthetics like polyester lace. These fabrics are either fated for destruction or sold to wholesale or retail customers at discount prices.

Irrespective of the unforeseen or predicted reasons for producing them, it is possible to get a substantial amount of good items from such fabric so they do not go back to being deadstock.

What people consider waste, others consider gain.

Today, deadstock fabrics are gradually accepted by companies in the fashion industry as opposed to previous times when they unceremoniously discarded such fabrics.

It must be made clear; nevertheless, that sustainability is not the same as recycling old clothes. Even if recycling and reusing fabrics ensures that nothing or very little is wasted is better for the environment and efficiency, much more must be done to make a brand truly sustainable.

How Are Deadstock Fabrics Produced?

Deadstock fabrics are fabric types that aren’t necessarily produced sustainably. In terms of long-term viability, the manufacturing method cannot be guaranteed.

Typically, textile sector sustainability problems will apply to most fabrics. This includes the use of energy-intensive machinery and the pollution caused by washing away of fibers and chemicals.

Fabric remnants are used to make deadstock fabric. Usually, the materials are gathered from many sources, including clothing manufacturers, costume shops, educational institutions, and private businesses, before being repurposed.

Cities and businesses often set up designated “collecting bins” where residents may drop off unwanted items to be sorted and reused or recycled.

Usually, the causes of the surplus of textiles could be due to mistakes in printing during manufacturing. That’ll means that the fabric is discarded and give rise to deadstock fabric.

Overproduction could also result from canceled or changed orders, or maybe the brand decides it would like a different color fiber. It could also be a result of flaws in the product.

It is up to the manufacturing firm to decide what to do with the fabrics.

Fabric tests, and designers overestimating their fabric needs, all contribute to this overestimation.

Unlike some competitors, many clothing manufacturers put the old clothes to good use by making new ones. This practice reduces the piling of deadstock fabrics. It’s also eco-friendly, using few natural resources, water, and chemicals.

A Brief History Of Deadstock Fabric

The fashion business has seen a considerable change in recent decades, emphasizing upkeep and morality in everything from fabric selection to supply chain visibility.

“The Reclaim to Wear” initiative is an innovative concept presented by an upcycling fashion label created by Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci. They began this movement in 1997 and established the notion of “deadstock fabric production,” which centers on making garments from used and discarded materials such as vintage textiles, offcuts from designers, and other scraps from the fashion industry.

The process involved:

  • Making new use of previously used materials, such as textile scraps and old garments.
  • Extending the useful life of these textiles.
  • Providing creative solutions to environmental and social problems.

Types of Deadstock Fabric

Vintage Deadstock fabric
Vintage Deadstock

It’s no secret that manufacturing clothes and other textiles generate a lot of trash. Used garments, manufacturing overruns, deadstock from the past, and deadstock from current designers are all examples of deadstock fabric. The primary types of these fabrics are; 

  • Fabric mill production surplus

This type of deadstock fabric results from a particular uncertainty inherent to fabric production. Some of these situations involve the production of fabric types on order, but cancellation or withdrawal of the order renders the fabric deadstock and unfit for use. 

Another scenario would be the overproduction of fabric because of unforeseen errors in the length, diameter, or thickness of cloth that are usually associated with fabric production. Also, when specifications given for fabric during production aren’t followed, the resulting fabric is usually deadstock as they are unused and cannot be sold. 

  • Deadstock designer fabrics

Deadstock designer fabric is the leftover fabric used by luxury and high street brands. Luxury fashion brands often sell off these fabrics to generate whatever income they can get. 

Being designer fabrics, they are always changed each season to follow whatever fashion is in vogue. This creates an excessive amount of unused fabric, which, if left, would result in unnecessary space crowding and waste. 

What is the Average Cost of Deadstock Fabric Per Yard?

Typically, fabric prices often vary depending on factors such as production costs, size, yardage, etc. It’s also the same with deadstock fabric, and these fabrics also vary in size, color, pattern, and length due to the different pieces of fabric they are produced from. 

Designer deadstock fabrics may cost higher than conventional deadstock fabric due to their previous high-end fashion use.

Generally, deadstock fabric sells from $4 per yard and up depending on the fabric piece. A designer deadstock with 100% wool flannel suiting can be purchased for $30.00 per yard, and Deadstock cotton poplin goes for $7.00 per yard. 

Deadstock Fabric Usage And Application

Deadstock Upholstery Fabric
Upholstery Deadstock Fabric

Ways you can use deadstock fabric include;

  • Clothing

Creating deadstock fabrics may involve piecing together fabric types like cotton, silk, rayon, polyester, etc. 

These fabrics are byproducts of the manufacturing process for textiles, including dresses, blouses, skirts, scarves, and underwear. 

  • Home Furnishings

Deadstock fabric, like regular fabric, provides coziness and can be used in the home. Curtains, bed linens, sofa upholstery, and rugs are just some places you can find them.

You can give sofas, couches, and headboards a unique look by upholstering with a combination of scraps of leather and denim. 

  • Art pieces

Each individual has their unique taste in art, and some individuals prefer uniqueness apart from conventional art.

So, deadstock fabric may be utilized for more than just clothing—for example, in creating decorative wall frames, flower pots, and the like.

Deadstock Fabric Care And Maintenance Tips

Given the sheer volume of heavy and small deadstock fabrics held by retailers, it is necessary to understand the texture of the fabric you are maintaining. 

In essence, deadstock fabrics are more or less recycled regular fabrics. Therefore, they can benefit from the same methods of upkeep and care as regular cloth items.

Follow these maintenance tips to help keep your fabric looking fresh for as long as possible. 

  • Before using your fabric, pre-wash or shrink it to ensure it lasts as long as feasible. This helps the fabric, after the initial wash, to retain its original shape.
  • Before washing, completely open the fabric to remove any folds. Additionally, you should wash the cloth following the instructions for its type of fiber and detergent.
  • If you want to sew or mend your deadstock fabric, I suggest you iron the fabric before cutting out patterns from your deadstock fabric to prevent pattern distortion. If you’re hesitant to use that technique on the material, you can try it on a scrap of fabric first.
  • It would be best if you did not use dryers on your fabric because they will likely harm the fibers. Wringing out damp clothing can result in pilling and fiber weakening, reducing the garment’s lifespan. If you must dry your clothes, do so quickly and in the lowest setting possible.
  • If the label on your vintage deadstock item specifies that you can wash it in a washer, then only wash it that way. Before throwing your clothes into the washing machine, double-check that all buttons and zippers are fastened and zipped to avoid snags.
  • You can significantly increase your clothes lifespan if you store your fabric rightly. Clothes can be damaged by exposure to moisture, sunlight, and high temperatures. So, keeping them in a cool, dry place is essential.
  • Moths can do serious damage if they find any signs of dirt or debris on your stored clothing, so be sure to clean everything thoroughly before putting it away.
  • Tumble dryers are bad for the environment and your clothes because they use so much power and can tear the fibers and designs in some fabrics. Instead, dry them naturally by hanging them outside on a drying rack, line, or hangers. Again, read care labels carefully for clothing that may need to be dried flat.

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