Meet The Brands Bringing Us Guilt-Free Fashion Made From Excess Waste

Celia Jones

The term 'flygskam' (flight-shaming) has taken off in the last few years as people become more aware of air travel’s damaging eco-effects. We should all be cutting back and thinking about the future, but flying accounts for 2.5% of the world’s carbon emissions; the global fashion industry contributes four times as much. Should 2020 be the year we start to talk about 'fabricskam' instead?

It’s undeniable: We’re a nation of fast fashion lovers. We buy more clothes than anywhere else in Europe, over twice Sweden’s annual average. In the process of clothes being made, bought and binned, the UK fashion industry sends 300,000 tonnes to landfill every year, according to WRAP, the waste reduction charity.

Certain brands – luxury and high street – have come under fire for burning millions of pounds worth of stock to protect its exclusivity and value, but a slew of labels are trying to combat the problem by using leftover 'deadstock' fabric and offcuts that would otherwise be destined for landfill – or worse.

I used to feel the same way about checking a fabric label as I do about swilling a glass of wine before taking that first judgmental sip – I knew it was something you were meant to do but my attempts were purely performative. Historically my wardrobe has crackled with unnatural fibres but an ever-growing range of stunning and sustainable clothes are combating the industry’s severe waste problem. We should be more aware of fabricskam.

Meet the brands bringing us guilt-free fashion made from excess waste. Here's to clothes that don't take their toll on the planet; as they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Christy Dawn

LA label Christy Dawn uses only deadstock – fabric that is produced but not used – to hand-make ethical collections in California. Designer and founder Christy 'rescues' material and repurposes it for vintage-inspired clothes, like the bestselling The Dawn dress or the versatile Thea maxi dress.

Christy says: "I spent years as a model in Los Angeles and witnessed firsthand the waste that occurs in the fashion industry." She adds: "Usually, deadstock ends up sitting in a warehouse for years before it's sent to landfill. This is perfectly usable, good fabric – and it's just being thrown away!"

Christy’s advice for anyone wanting to make more ethical fashion choices? "It’s easier than you think." Whether that’s looking online for secondhand items, going vintage shopping or shopping at sustainable labels, "it’s all about making small choices that have an enormous impact."
Bug Clothing

Founded in Hackney and made by seamstresses in London and Wales, Bug Clothing creates beautiful clothes with purpose. Designer Amy Ward always knew deadstock would be central to her line. She says: "It helps with creativity: I can only use what I find, and the fabric usually informs the design."

Her garments are in limited runs, which Amy says aren’t just 'special', they’re also helping to swerve the problem of new materials being produced – and wasted. All Bug’s clothes, from the two-tone Magda pants (from £180) to the lilac linen summer suit (pre-order for £180), are made out of natural fabrics to allow bodies to breathe.

"It’s our responsibility to care about the things we purchase," says Amy, encouraging her customers to buy items with the intention of looking after them for a long time.
Entrepreneur and fitness influencer Grace Beverley set up TALA to make activewear more sustainable. Grace explains: "Typically, factories have up to 20% leftover fabrics during the cutting process, and this historically is sent to landfill. TALA uses these offcuts, together with recycled fabrics and regenerated plastic bottles, to reduce waste and our footprint."
Her most popular piece is the black Zinnia legging (£40), which Grace thinks is because "they’re high performance and suit every body type."
P.i.C Style

London-based P.i.C sells a capsule collection of eight items made out of locally sourced organic materials, including bamboo and plant-based Lyocell. The limited edition Hoxton boyfriend-fit shirt (£160) and London miniskirt (£85-95) uses deadstock cotton, further boosting the brand’s sustainable credentials.

Founder and director Rhoda Chan calls the collection "thoughtful fashion", prompting people to shop smaller and play around with combinations (the range can be styled in up to 50 different ways). Rhoda says: "It’s time to stop over-buying and instead choose stuff you love and invest in it."
House of Holland

Certain labels, like House of Holland, sell on their unused fabric. Designer Henry Holland explains: "We decided to sell the deadstock as I wanted it to realise its destiny! What use is a roll of fabric sat in a box in my studio for years when it could be reinterpreted by someone and turned into an amazing garment?"

He adds: "With the increasing speed of the industry, after a few months that fabric is out of season for us as a brand – but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful or desirable to a customer." His latest collection is full of gorgeous pieces, including an emerald lace long-sleeved dress (£250) and a Studio 54-inspired long gathered black and white striped dress (£175).
The New Craft House

Hannah Silvani and Rosie Scott set up The New Craft House, a sewing workshop and deadstock fabric shop, to encourage people to make their wardrobes more sustainable. "We kept hearing stories about brands and designers throwing away or incinerating excess fabrics," says Rosie, so they launched a fabric store (online and in their Hackney studio) alongside classes to show people how easy it is to make clothes at home – without increasing the demand for new fabric to be made. 

Their wide-ranging selection of material means people can make a dress from deadstock designer silk for less than £40 – a fraction of the ready-made equivalent. Hannah adds: "People are starting to think about reducing plastics and microplastics. There is a lot of judgement, or fabricskam, around polyester in particular but other fabrics have a negative impact on the planet. Cotton uses an average of 20,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of fabric, and faux fur even more."

Hannah and Rosie confirm that fabric is a complicated issue but it’s better to wear clothes made from natural materials, especially if they’re reused or recycled.

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