Clothing manufacturing has always created a lot of waste. An average factory can leave up to 40% of their materials wasted. From textile scraps, leftover fabric, to excess thread and paper waste. Really that’s just the beginning and if you think about it this makes sense, brands are working super fast to produce at the same level as everyone else and pushing their workers to do the same. Within sustainable fashion there is a pioneering sector of brands aiming for zero-waste, below are 10 of my favorites.
One of the world’s first zero-waste brands, Tonlé’s zero-waste journey starts at fabric sourcing. The design team visits factories to source scrap material to get the waste fabric before it hits the landfill. Excess fabric is put into their in-house recycled paper or hand weaved back into yarn.
The prints at Palava are so fun! They are filled with everything from lobsters to flowerpots and mountains. They also strive to make their production process as close to zero-waste as possible. They source minimal impact fabrics like organic cotton and upcycle all excess fabric into accessories.
These lovely prints are designed to last and be as functional as they are pretty. The brand helps contribute to the circular zero-waste economy by sourcing the most sustainable fabrics (GOTS certified) and using high tech waste eliminating machines. For example, Dagny uses a state-of-the-art digital printer to scan their prints directly onto the fabric helping to eliminate the use of water, paper, and chemicals.
Zero-waste stockings? Color me shocked. This Swedish brand takes innovation to a new level with their nylon stocking that comes from pre and post-consumer waste. Along with recycled and upcycled materials, their factories are also zero-waste, reusing the waste and recycling the waste they create.
Raven + Lily is already known for their awesome ethics, working with at-risk women to give them new skills and a new lease on life. So it won’t be a surprise that they produce their clothing at a certified zero-waste facility in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
We shouldn’t view our waste as a problem that can’t be solved, as a brand Aiayu takes this approach to the waste they create. They have a specific zero-waste program for all their cotton products and use the leftover fabric and cuttings for their accessories. That’s not all, the profits from their zero-waste production are donated to schools in Agra, India that work with challenged children.
Tara St. James throws out the traditional fashion model with her brand Study New York. Instead of following a retail calendar she produces monthly capsule collections that are made in New York. Instead of wasteful production, Tara uses zero-waste pattern making and inevitably when there is fabric waste, Study New York partners with Brooklyn based businesses to upcycle the fabric.
Everything in Bozena’s collection is made to order in a factory in Stratford, East London. There she has formed a close relationship with the women who produce her clothes and she also ensures that there is no waste from production.
This brand makes clothing for the funky and functional minimalist. Behind the clothes is the best of sustainable practices. All their studio waste is recycled and fabric waste is upcycled in collaboration with different charities.
Special Mention: Reformation
This trendy brand that’s at the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement is on their way to zero-waste. While they aren’t zero-waste just yet, it’s their goal! They currently recycle 75% of the waste they create and plan to reach over 85% in the next several years.