Deadstock Fabric Explained - Abbie James

Deadstock Fabric Explained

Deadstock Fabric Explained

Deadstock fabric is favoured by sustainable brands across the globe and if you are a shopper who likes to know the facts, then deadstock fabric needs to be on your radar. Being used predominantly by smaller, independent brands, this emerging fabric option is gaining momentum and I'll go through the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if deadstock fabric aligns with your values and deserves to be given a place in your wardrobe.

A white table with fabric swatches, a tape measure and a container of pins.


Deadstock fabric is unwanted fabric. It can be left over fabric from a brand or manufacturer who has over-ordered for their collection, or a textile mill that has overproduced a particular run or had an order canceled. It is also referred to as remnant fabric, surplus fabric or overstock fabric. Deadstock fabric is generally any fabric that is no longer needed for it's original purpose or order fulfilment. 


Deadstock fabric can come from many places. As mentioned above, this fabric is predominantly sourced from mills or designers. This fabric is then passed on to a fabric jobber. Fabric jobbers purchase the deadstock fabric and onsell it to businesses and designers. 

Deadstock can also be sourced directly from one designer to another and there are now social media groups connecting sellers to buyers.

The benefits of deadstock fabric

Seen by many as the ideal sustainable option, true deadstock fabric is keeping unwanted fabric from being discarded and giving it a second chance. Instead of ending up in landfill it offers a smaller brand the option to use this sustainable fabric rather than creating a new, virgin fabric for their collection which saves on fossil fuels and waste. 

Deadstock fabric gives emerging and smaller brands the option of creating a small-scale collection instead of having to reach the large minimums that must be met when manufacturing with a mill. This helps reduce overproduction and offers a financially viable option for the brand. 

It is challenging for mass-produced brands to use deadstock fabric because of the limited amount of fabric available. This means that when you purchase a garment that has been made from deadstock fabric it is generally a made on a small run and therefore is often a more individual design. 

A timber work table with a pattern piece, grading ruler and womens hands holding some pics silk fabric

the downsides of deadstock fabric

Critics are cautious of this fabric as transparency is an issue. It can be challenging for a designer and consumer to know where the deadstock fabric originated from and if it is a true remnant fabric or simply greenwashing. 

Environmentalists are concerned that the popularity that deadstock fabric has gained as being a sustainable option may encourage mills or brands to intentionally overproduce fabric as they know they can simply resell it as deadstock fabric. Knowing if the fabric is a true remnant rather than intentional overproduction is very hard to identify as it may have passed through many hands until it is sold to the designer. 

Another point to consider is regarding the quality of the deadstock fabric. The condition of the fabric may be in question as it may be offered as a deadstock fabric due to not passing quality control and therefore not being able to be used in it's original intended use. 

Rolls of fabric and scrunched fabric on a imber table

where to from here?

As with most sustainable options that are new to the market, rules and guidelines need to catch up with the demand and deadstock fabric is no different. Until full traceability is available, consumers need to be aware of the ups and downs of using deadstock fabric. 

If you are concerned about the deadstock fabric a particular brand is using, I suggest you ask the designer about their suppliers and where they source their deadstock fabric from. A true sustainable brand that is not greenwashing should be happy to offer up any information they have on their production process. If there is a resistance to this, I suggest you look elsewhere for your clothing. 

The next Abbie James collection will be made predominantly from deadstock fabric which will be sourced locally. When the collection is available, we will disclose all information we know of all of our materials and makers so you know the exact journey your garment has made.