Ethical Fashion News

Recycling dead stock as a sustainable fashion brand

Recycling and specifically fabric recycling is super important in sustainable fashion and in the fashion industry as a whole.

As we mentioned in our last blogpost one of the worst, most polluting aspects of fast fashion is the amount of waste the industry produces mostly, but not exclusively, in the form of ‘dead stock’.

What is ‘dead stock’?

A term used to describe merchandise that was never sold to or used by consumers before being removed from sale, usually because it was outdated. Dead stock is often warehoused, but it can also subsequently be offered for sale and typically retains its original package and tags.
Definition from

Many major players have been called out in recent months for the disposal of all their dead stock. Fast fashion is the biggest culprit with many big high street names sitting on masses of unsold stock from over-production.
And luxury fashion houses aren’t much better…

‘Dead stock’ is a problem if you’re churning out millions of garments a season but small-scale operations like us can be way more innovative + creative with our solutions.

We have a policy for our ready to wear designs at Emperor’s – an item has to be sent to every one of our stockists and go through two sales (we hold January + Summer sales) before being considered ‘dead stock’.

What happens to a garment that sadly doesn’t find it’s perfect owner? It gets a new lease of life as we rework it into another one of our designs! Ready to start the process again.

Since the end of our January sale we have been having fun reworking some of the unsold garments.

Here are a couple of examples:

‘Scarlet Fever’ Amy Dress becomes ‘Scarlet Fever’ Circle Two-Piece

‘Afternoon Tea’ Amy Dress becomes ‘Afternoon Tea’ Circle Two-Piece

What does reworking involve?

We take the time to unpick the unsold garment into pieces that will work for the new design.

It takes time, especially unpicking all the overlocking where we use four different threads.

It’s totally worth it though to know that we are giving this piece of clothing a new chance to be loved.

In the case of transforming a dress into a two-piece we need to create a waistband for the new skirt. Luckily we have a zero fabric waste policy at Emperor’s HQ! We hold onto the scraps of every fabric from our cutting room floor so in most cases we just look for the corresponding fabric remnant in one of our colour-coded boxes and get to work.

The same goes for turning culottes into dungaree-culottes we look for leftover fabric to create the straps and bib…

But isn’t this all a lot of work?

Yes all this is extra work and ultimately this means the profit margin of the garment in question takes a hit but we value sustainability + our slow fashion ethos above making a buck.

We have made sure that recycling is a central part of our business model.

As brands we don’t need to follow traditional retail business models – in fact we shouldn’t! Look at the mess they’ve gotten us into…

‘Dead stock’ is a horrid term and actually just doesn’t exist at The Emperor’s Old Clothes.

On the very rare occasion that a garment has been reworked into as many styles as possible + still hasn’t sold, well then we would make it into our signature accessories + so on + so on.

Waste is only waste if you waste it + in this day and age with all the knowledge we have about the social + environmental impacts of fast fashion there’s just no excuse for dead stock.

We hope this has inspired you to place more value on the clothing in your wardrobe, to think about where your clothes come from + to support brands who are making meaningful change in their everyday activities + product lines.

The garments pictured + described in this blogpost will be hitting our online boutique this week!

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