Fashion has a waste problem. Deadstock fabric and excess inventory pile up across the fashion industry year upon year. While some stock can be sold on to discounted retailers, it often ends up in landfill or is burnt.
It’s not uncommon for a brand or retailer to buy stock for the season with the intention of selling just 30-40% at full price, with the remainder targeted towards sale periods, and finally ending up as deadstock, unbought, unworn, destined for landfill. Burning is particularly harmful due to the release of dangerous toxins into the atmosphere from dyes and other materials, not to mention the waste of carbon and chemicals inputted into making the garment in the first place.
Pushing sales through discounted pricing is often unavoidable at the end of a season, but when putting sustainability at the forefront of business decisions, the amount of stock in a sale period could be minimised. This in turn keeps production, and therefore overall carbon footprint, low. When we produce our collections, we carefully decide on the quantities that should be manufactured, minimising them as much as possible to avoid ending up with leftover pieces. The downside of this means that we often experience the quick sell out on certain sizes and styles, but we realise this is a more sustainable way of producing fashion.
Excess stock isn’t the only waste issue within fashion businesses. Samples and fabric can build up season upon season, and unless dealt with responsibly, these can add up significantly amounts of potential waste. Our production and press samples are either sold at a sample sale or donated to Smalls For All, a charity who collect underwear and distribute them both in the UK and internationally to Africa to those to need it most. When we buy fabrics, we’re cautious and only buy exactly the amount we will need, so are able to avoid wastage, and, on the rare occasion we are left with any excess materials, we either sell or donate it to another organisation.
We’ve put sustainability at the centre of our business decisions because we know we can do better. Read about the other steps we are taking here.