Featured image for blog post: "WHAT ARE DEADSTOCK FABRICS?" by State of Matter, showing a man lounging on a couch in a sunny room, symbolizing the reuse of recycled materials in fashion.

Sustainability 101: What is deadstock fabric?

Sustainability is more important now than ever before. As the world population continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to be mindful of our impact on the environment.

The fashion industry faces a significant challenge with the accumulation of fabric waste, as vast quantities of garments are either discarded in landfills or incinerated annually. Surprisingly, recent reports indicate that less than 1% of the fabric used in clothing production is effectively recycled for the creation of new apparel.

Alongside the issue of excessive clothing production, which reaches staggering numbers of up to 100 billion new garments each year according to certain studies, another concern arises from the surplus of unused or "deadstock" fabric found in manufacturing mills.

One way we can all make a difference is by being conscious of the products we buy and how they are made. 

What are deadstock fabrics?

Deadstock fabrics are leftover fabric rolls from fashion designers and garment manufacturers. These fabrics would otherwise go to waste but can be repurposed by other designers and makers

Overall, deadstock fabrics are a great option for those looking to be more sustainable in their sourcing. It is important to remember that these fabrics are often limited in quantity and might not be perfect, but they offer a great opportunity to reduce waste.

Why is it important to use deadstock fabric?

By using deadstock fabric, we can help reduce textile waste and pollution. In addition, it is a more sustainable way to source fabric, as it requires less water and energy to produce. 

History of deadstock fabric

Fashion insiders first coined the term "deadstock" in the early 2000s. At that time, there was an increase in awareness of textile waste and its impact on the environment. As a result, many companies began to donate their excess fabric to charities or sell it at discounted prices.

Deadstock fabrics have become more popular among sustainable fashion brands in recent years. Many designers are now using deadstock fabric to create unique and sustainable garments. As a result, deadstock fabric plays an important role in the fight against textile waste.

How has the Perception of Deadstock Fabric Changed Over Time?

The perception of deadstock fabric has changed significantly over the years, particularly in the context of sustainability. For instance, in 2018, designer brand Burberry faced backlash for burning unused products. In response to the criticism, the brand and others in the industry have adopted new sustainability practices, including the reduction or elimination of deadstock fabric from their supply chains. When deadstock does exist, efforts are made to repurpose it for more sustainable uses​.

Are deadstock fabrics a sustainable option?

Deadstock fabric is a leftover fabric that fashion brands would otherwise discard. Using deadstock fabric, brands can reduce their environmental impact and create unique products.

As the fashion industry continues to search for sustainable solutions, deadstock fabric remains an intriguing option. However, some critics argue that deadstock fabrics are not truly sustainable fabrics. While it does divert waste from landfills, it often requires a great deal of energy and resources to process.


  • Reduce textile wastage and pollution
  • A more sustainable way to source fabric scraps
  • Less water and energy required to produce
  • Can be more environmentally friendly, as it does not require new production
  • It may be cheaper, as it is already manufactured
  • Can add unique personality and character to designs


  • Some deadstock fabric can be expensive
  • There can be a limited selection of designs and colors
  • It may not have been produced with sustainable practices

What is the difference between deadstock and vintage fabric?

The main difference between deadstock and vintage fabric is that deadstock fabric is unused or excess fabric from fashion designers, manufacturers, and textile mills. On the other hand, Vintage fabric is a recycled fabric that has been pre-owned.

What is Available stock fabric?

Available stock fabric is a term for different fabric factories mass-producing because they are confident it will sell eventually. A common example of stock fabrics are plain knit jerseys for t-shirts. Manufacturers produce large quantities of this fabric because they know there is always a customer for t-shirts, even if the demand isn't immediate.

Transparency issues

Deadstock fabric has a transparency issue in the supply chain. It's not easy to follow the fiber's origin and production process. As a result, there is a chance that the cloth was not manufactured ecologically, socially, or using harmful chemicals.

Better options than deadstock fabric

If you are looking for sustainable fabric options that are not deadstock, there are a few different options to consider. One option is organic cotton, which is grown without the use of pesticides or harmful chemicals.

Another option is recycled polyester, which is made from post-consumer plastic bottles. Finally, you could also consider the bamboo fabric a sustainable alternative and eco-friendly option.


While deadstock fabric may not be the most sustainable option, it can be a great way to reduce waste and give new life to recycled materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

When shopping for clothing brands that use deadstock fabric, it's important to consider the quality of the fabric and whether it will meet your needs. However, deadstock fabric can be a great way to save money and find unique fabrics for your projects.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What does deadstock mean in fabrics?

Deadstock fabrics refer to surplus textiles originally produced for other fashion houses or brands that have remained unused, often due to overproduction or design changes. These materials represent a sustainable choice for environmentally conscious designers.

Is Deadstock fabric good quality?

Yes, deadstock fabric often maintains high quality as it is essentially excess from previous production runs intended for premium fashion lines. Its quality is not compromised and is a resourceful option for sustainable fashion.

What is deadstock fabric and is it sustainable?

Deadstock fabric is leftover, unused fabric from larger production runs, offering a sustainable alternative to new textile production. Using deadstock reduces waste and the environmental footprint associated with fabric manufacturing.

Why is deadstock fabric so expensive?

Deadstock fabric can be expensive due to its limited availability, unique designs, and high quality. It’s often sourced from high-end fashion brands, adding to its value and cost.

What can you do with deadstock fabric?

Deadstock fabric can be creatively repurposed in various ways, including fashion design, upholstery, and craft projects. It’s an excellent resource for sustainable fashion designers and DIY enthusiasts.

How can you tell if something is deadstock?

To identify deadstock, look for fabrics that are available in limited quantities, often with unique designs or patterns. Verification can also come from suppliers who specialize in sourcing and selling deadstock materials.

Is buying deadstock fabric sustainable?

Buying deadstock fabric is generally considered sustainable as it helps reduce waste by reusing materials that would otherwise go unused, minimizing the demand for new textile production and its environmental impact.

What is vintage deadstock?

Vintage deadstock refers to older, unused fabrics that have been preserved over time. These fabrics are particularly sought after for their unique patterns and historical value in fashion and design.

Where does deadstock fabric come from?

Deadstock fabric originates from overproduction in the fashion and textile industry. It’s sourced from factories, designers, or warehouses where excess fabrics have accumulated over time.

What are unfinished fabrics of textiles called?

Unfinished fabrics or textiles are often referred to as “greige goods.” These are fabrics that have been woven or knitted but not yet dyed, printed, or finished.

What do designers do with leftover fabric?

Designers often repurpose leftover fabric into new collections, donate to educational or charitable projects, or sell as deadstock to other designers and creatives, supporting sustainability in the industry.

What is the least environmentally friendly fabric?

The least environmentally friendly fabrics typically include synthetics like polyester and nylon, which are petroleum-based and non-biodegradable, contributing significantly to environmental pollution.