Deadstock - Conscious collaborations | The Forward Lab

We hear about deadstock everywhere as being a great sustainable solution.
But what is deadstock? What does it mean? Where does it come from? And is it really sustainable?

Deadstock fabrics are textiles which are sitting around as leftovers and are not part of a plan for immediate or future use. It is also known as overstock, surplus, or jobber fabric.

Why does deadstock exist?
Excess fabrics could result from several situations:

  • A discontinued production leading to important quantity of leftover fabric.
  • Overproduction of a specific textile by a fabric mill non-saleable anymore.
  • Fashion houses overestimating their needs.
  • Small damages to the fabric making the fabric unusable for big fashion houses.

For now, what happens to the deadstock?
In the best-case scenario, the excess fabric is sold to a jobber, fabric suppliers who sell over runs, odd lots and seconds. In the most unfortunate cases, the excess fabric goes straight to the landfills.

The real debate: deadstock fabric – is it really sustainable?
It is smarter and more environmentally friendly to reuse existing materials and fabrics instead of ordering brand new fabric: you are saving energy by reducing the carbon footprint that would have been expended to produce new materials as well as the use of natural resources.

However, the use of deadstock can be criticized…
In most cases, clothing manufacturers have to buy more fabric than needed because of the usual Minimum Order Quantity required.

This is factored into the basic costing of a mill: they will plan out beforehand which percentage of fabric they intend to sell at full price, and which will be sold at a heavy discounted price to jobbers.

That being said, selling deadstock is not easy at all: since deadstock fabrics are limited in quantity, sometimes they have very small damage, many brands refuse to use it.

Deadstock and The Forward Lab?
At The Forward Lab, we wanted to experience using deadstock firsthand and we decided to create an exclusive, limited capsule collection.

We worked hand in hand with the French atelier Maille Creation, specialising in knitwear, which accumulated excess stock of yarn over the years. Together, we looked into their yarn inventory and worked on possible knits made with this excess yarn.

The result: limited edition sweaters. Depending on the model and the colour, we have different quantities as the ultimate aim was to use the leftover yarn.

We strongly believe it is the responsibility of brands to be involved in the process, understand where the deadstock comes from and how to use it after.

Transparency is key.