Designing with Deadstock
What is Deadstock?
eMpulse is excited to bring deadstock fabric into our family of preferred fibers. What is a deadstock fabric you might ask? First, you need to understand overproduction in fast fashion to see how deadstock is created. In fast fashion, the waste generated is inadequately considered by designers and brands. Ordering newly constructed fabric requires minimums that usually far exceed what is actually needed for a design. To get the prices down on a order, brands are encouraged to buy more in order to get the price breaks. Although this is process may be most cost-efficient for the brands, the size of the order is simply not needed. It is an unsustainable practice for the planet and its resources.
Other times, the fabric mills producing fabrics for brands will also just continually keep stock on deck because they know that it will eventually sell. Both of these options attribute to the build-up of unneeded fabric. Indeed, more than $120 billion worth of fabric currently sits unwanted in warehouses (UN Environment Program). Whether the brand ordered too much fabric, it is damaged, it is sitting in a warehouse, or it didn’t satisfy the brand it is deadstock fabric. In short, deadstock refers to a fabric that has not been able to sell for one reason or another.
This yardage of deadstock is often sold to a jobber. A jobber buys up unwanted fabric from all over the country or world to then sell it in their local market. Think of Mood in NYC that we used to see on Project Runway—that’s a jobber. Some jobbers are able to keep track of the origins of all the fabrics they offer and others do not. The sometimes lack of traceability of a fabric can pose issues for a brand. The chemicals, dyes, and origins of the fabric might be unknown, which may compromise a brands’ mission. In other situations, the technical details of a fabric are available and make purchasing easier.
Utilizing Deadstock for Design
We find that creating with deadstock fabric is a bit like upcycling. Giving life and a purpose to a fabric sitting in a factory avoids it from either a.) being shipped all over the world looking for a home or b.) ending up in a landfill. When you think of all of Americas unwanted clothing being shipped to developing countries just to sit in landfills, it is easy to see how an undesired roll of fabric can find its way to a landfill.
As a small clothing company, eMpulse sees deadstock as a preferred and ethical option. It is an excellent way for smaller brands who might not know exact customer demands to manufacture clothing. This way, we can invest in yardage of already made fabric without meeting any crazy minimum. Available yardage for any given deadstock fabric is always limited. So, anything that is produced will most likely be a limited amount and made in small batches—which we love at eMpulse in order to be creating exciting, fresh, and limited-edition pieces.
Being a supporter of low-impact creations, eMpulse also appreciates the reduced resource consumption with deadstock fabric. Creating a new fabric from scratch requires energy, water, labor, resources and it generates waste. Deadstock has already utilized these resources, so there will never be a way to reclaim them. So, using available fabric saves the water, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. involved in producing brand new materials. It also lowers the carbon footprint of a fabric since you are purchasing it on location, thus minimizing the supply chain transportation emissions.
As a San Diego based company, eMpulse is fortunate to have the L.A. only a short drive away. This lets us get our boots on the ground at jobbers to source the perfect fabrics for our collection. While some brands may have to order online, we can promise that our deadstock is always hand selected to perfection—never compromising the feel of an eMpulse original. We appreciate the sustainability involved in using what is already here and created on this planet rather than always making new. While deadstock can present some challenges, we believe that the positives of deadstock follow our vision for the company and adhere to what our customers appreciate.
Continuously Questioning the Norm,
eM and the eMpulse team
UN Environment Program. 2018. "Putting the Brakes on Fast Fashion." UN Environment Program, Nov 12, 2018. https://www.unep.org/pt-br/node/23841?fbclid=IwAR3HZJE8Ko6GJzZ16J-qT8Xyw5Mg7BGhTix0btQzwcaNYxReWaVMdtAGT_U.