The fashion industry needs to think of new and creative ways to tackle its issue of excess inventory and unused fabrics if sustainable goals are to be met, according to GlobalData.
“Excess inventory and how to handle it appropriately is probably one of, if not the biggest, sustainability challenges clothing brands have to face,” said Hannah Abdulla, apparel correspondent at GlobalData. “But equally, it presents a real opportunity for innovation and to make a significant difference in tackling the mounting clothing waste problem globally.”
Some companies are already taking on that challenge. For example, SupplyCompass and technology company Queen of Raw have recently partnered on the Deadstock Library, an online marketplace that matches fashion organisations looking to offload excess fabrics with buyers interested in high quality sustainable and affordable textiles.
Similarly, fashion brands looking to repurpose deadstock include Jonathan Cohen, which introduced a direct-to-consumer line of upcycled garments in December 2019, made from its own deadstock, and Burberry, which partnered with luxury brand Elvis & Kresse to repurpose its leather offcuts into handbags and other accessories.
According to McKinsey’s ‘State of Fashion 2020’ report, younger brands particularly want to operate in a more conscious manner, and working with offcuts, or excess materials, is financially compelling.
“Unused textiles are often thrown into landfill, burned or laid to rest in warehouses. Deadstock fabrics may be left over from previous seasons, as well as those that have been rejected due to minor defects or design changes,” Abdulla said.
“On top of this, billions of dollars’ worth of orders were canceled by brands and retailers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, while consumers cut back on shopping for clothes, leaving brands sitting on stock they couldn’t shift. With sustainability being top of mind for consumers, landfilling or burning unwanted stock is a no-go.”
Abdulla continued: “Many retailers have turned to discounting to flog the excess, but there is concern it is feeding the habit of cheap clothing consumption or throwaway fashion.”
The New Standard Institute has stated it believes investment in business models that consider deadstock material or use existing products to redesign are the way to go for those looking to boost sustainability credentials.
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