Within the fashion industry, typically each pattern cut to produce a clothing article results in 15-30% waste (Billions of yards of fabric each year). Just imagine when your mom would buy a pattern to sew a Halloween costume. The fabric leftover was wasted scraps unless she found another use for the odd shaped pieces. Wasted fabric is not only a waste of money, but it also is more waste introduced to the planet. So, some designers are coming up with creative ways to utilize all of the fabric.
There are two primary ways the designers are tackling this:
- Zero waste design is when designers use special pattern design and cutting processes to reduce or eliminate waste. Our amazing partner Devinto Designs is extremely eco-conscious with her designs, making everything to order and a perfect example is her super cool bamboo jersey long sleeve blouse, which has a neckline made from rescued fabric scraps.
- Zero waste production is when designers use excess fabric in other pieces. It is common for the leftover fabric to be used to create smaller items such as headbands, bags or jewelry. We have a number of partners who do this such as Jennafer Grace with her cool headbands and turbans. One of our scarf partners, Anu uses remnants to make beautiful reusable bags which we are now using in our store.
Some fashion brands are taking zero waste to a whole other level by using excess or deadstock fabric in their production. Just imagine a big factory or designer ordering tons of fabric and then either stopping production and discarding the fabric or possibly they disliked the fabric and discarded it before even using it. This happens often and the fabric is often sent straight to the trash.
Designers like Tonlé take this opportunity to buy the deadstock fabric from large garment factories and design their clothing based on the fabric they find. In addition to that, Tonlé takes the scraps and cuts and sews them into yarn which is woven or knit into new pieces. Any remaining waste after that is crafted into handmade paper. Talk about incredible and inspiring!
Zero waste fashion as a concept may be new, but the practice has been embraced for a long time within many cultures. Just consider the Ancient Greek clothes, Japanese kimonos and even some traditional African attire. It is another challenge within the fashion industry, but we’re going to bet that designers are up for the challenge and we will all be here to support them!