Hate waste? So do these zero waste fashion brands! We think you’ll love them….
By Katy Caric
By now, we all know the fashion industry creates massive amounts of waste.
For example, when considering which fabric to purchase from a supplier, brands often get several swatch samples, which are discarded after a collection is completed.
Pattern cutting also usually involves a lot of waste. When fabric patterns are cut, this can result in several offcuts. These are bits of textiles that are often just thrown out. In fact, an average factory can leave up to 40% of their materials as rubbish. And that’s not even considering wastage that comes from unsold garments.
From textile scraps and leftover fabric to excess thread and paper, there’s a whole lot that could be reduced, reused and recycled when creating garments. Or better yet, this type of waste could simply be avoided altogether!
Luckily, there are some fashion labels that are realising that wasted fabric = wasted money and a wasted planet. So they’re doing their best to reduce the amount of garbage created in their production cycles by cutting patterns more cleverly, making garments on an order-only basis, and/or recycling whatever scraps they may end up having into small accessories.
The result? Innovative designs by zero waste fashion brands that will blow your mind!
How do we define zero waste fashion brands?
There are basically two approaches zero waste fashion brands take towards their work.
The first is pre-consumer zero waste, where brands use:
- recycled materials
- 3D printing
- pattern cutting techniques that results in no textile waste before a collection is completed
- zero waste fashion brands might also only make garments on demand
And as you probably guessed, the second is post-consumer zero waste. This is all about upcycling existing textiles, clothing and accessories into something fresh and new. It could also involve a brand accepting their worn clothing from their customers and transforming it into something desirable again.
Not just the clothing
Zero waste fashion brands need to go beyond their designs alone, though. Another important element of their work should be their packaging. For example, they should be using recycled paper boxes, recycled or compostable polybag mailers, and cloth bags made from upcycled fabric.
Finally, a truly zero waste fashion brand will also consider using renewable energy throughout its supply chain.
Ready to see some of the best zero waste fashion brands around the world? Read on!
10 Zero Waste Fashion Brands We Love
They started with vegan shoes, and now Rothy’s has expanded their wares to include some absolutely fabulous handbags, too. No matter what kind of accessory you’re after here, it will have been created from recycled ocean plastic.
But that’s not all! Rothy’s also uses 3D printing, which ensures there’s no waste material whatsoever when they make each item.
Zero waste fashion because: They use recycled materials and 3D printing.
We love how RE/DONE takes existing Levi’s jeans and transforms them into fresh designs. Think: new finishes on denim, or increasing the height of low-rider jeans with addedTheir mission is to reduce the amount of clothing going into landfill, and we love the unique results they come up with!
RE/DONE encourages other brands to use zero waste techniques, and has even partnered with the likes of Hanes and Champion to create a capsule collections from their vintage archives. In addition, Net A Porter has included them as part of their Net Sustain brand collection.
Zero waste fashion because: They upcycle old jeans.
3. Eco Alf
Ecoalf is a well-loved sustainable fashion fashion label. And with good reason: they make all of their clothing, shoes and other accessories from fully recycled materials. For example, they use recycled plastic, nylon, cotton, wool – and even waste tires! Moreover, their packaging is comprised of 100% recycled paper. But it goes on! The company is also working to reduce their carbon emissions. They claim to have saved 13% on emissions overall by manufacturing locally in Spain.
Zero waste fashion because: They use 100% recycled materials for everything, even packaging.
Much like Rothy’s Vivaia makes all their shoes, boots and bags from a zero-waste 3D printing process that generates nothing excess. The materials they use are also recycled plastics, as well as recycled faux fur. The main difference? Vivaia also makes 100% cotton casual wear, too.
Zero waste fashion because: 3D printing, recycled materials.
Looking for zero waste fashion brands with minimalist vibes? Eileen Fisher Renew is the one for you! This fashion house creates each piece from luxe, sustainable fabrics. And when their customers no longer want their purchase, they can resell it back to the brand.
Eileen Fisher Renew claims to have collected nearly 2 million unwanted garments from their customers over the past 14 years. Those items are then upcycled into new designs, including home decor pieces, resold at a discount, or donated to worthy causes.
Zero waste fashion because: They upcycle the (highly sustainable) garments their customers no longer want.
The lovely prints by Dagny 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.
In addition, Dagny’s patterns are printed through a toxin-free, paper-free, and water-free process. Most textiles in the collection are sourced from Italian mills from surplus fabric, saving these gorgeous materials from landfills.
Zero waste fashion because: They use digital printing and surplus fabrics.
This Swedish brand takes innovation to a new level with their nylon stockings that are made 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.
Zero waste fashion because: Their stockings are all made from waste products, and their factories are fully zero-waste too.
Basics brand Aiayu takes a positive 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.
But that’s not all – a percentage of all their profits is donated to schools in Agra, India, that work with challenged children.
Zero waste fashion because: Not a scrap of fabric is ever wasted!
Forget fast fashion or trends! Study New York owner Tara St. James shuns how traditional fashion brands operate. For example, she produces monthly capsule collections that are made locally in her New York atelier. Tara uses zero-waste pattern making and cutting methods. Inevitably, when there is some textile waste, Study New York works with locally based businesses to upcycle the material.
Zero waste fashion because: They use zero waste cutting techniques and send any other wasted fabric for upcycling.
10. Whimsy + Row
If you’re looking for zero waste fashion brands that provide unique pieces, Whimsy + Row is for you! They make very limited edition garments, which are all handmade in Los Angeles. Don’t want to miss out on a new creation? There’s a waiting list on their website where you can place your order. That way, the company knows exactly much clothing it has to create. The brand only uses locally sourced and eco-friendly materials, and recycles every scrap of deadstock fabric to turn it into new garments or accessories.
Whimsy + Row is also carbon-neutral, and get this: they even use recycled water to make their garments!
Zero waste fashion because: They recycle all materials and create on demand.
DEMOBAZA is a ‘casual couture brand’ that explores reconstruction, minimalism, and futurism. They use their designs to explore a ‘deconstructive uniform,’ achieved by transforming unlikely discarded materials and old fabrics into revived pieces.
Recycling and repurposing is core to the DEMOBAZA brand, not only for its ethos and commitment to responsibility, but also for its aesthetic purposes. We’d describe this as being one of the most ‘apocalyptic chic’ zero waste fashion brands!
Zero waste fashion because: They use only discarded and upcycled materials.
12. Oh Seven Days
OhSevenDays creates sustainable capsule wardrobe pieces from deadstock fabrics. And the brand came from a zero waste mentality from day one! Founder Megan Mummery was thrilled to find a neighbourhood in Istanbul that sells off-cut fabric leftovers from larger garment manufacturers. When she learned those lush materials were on their way to landfill, she had the idea of creating a zero waste fashion brand. Today, OhSevenDays actively promotes the ideas of ‘slow fashion’ and circularity.
Zero waste fashion because: They use only discarded materials.