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Upcycled

Image of deadstock fabrics in our Fall | Winter Collection.Swahlee creates a handmade capsule wardrobe of clothing essentials made ethically in India using sustainable production and natural fabrics.
Fabrics in our Fall | Winter Collection

Originally published 3 October 2019

As I’ve delved deeper into the garment industry, I’ve learned about the huge negative impact this industry has on the environment. In our previous post for Earth Day, we quoted the figure that supply chain waste in the fashion industry was estimated to be over 800,000 tons in 2016. This is waste before clothing even enters the market and does not include clothing worn and thrown away.

Knowing the fashion industry is a major contributor to pollution and environmental waste, I’ve begun to ask the question, what is our role as an apparel company when it comes to environmental stewardship? For a small business producing in small batches, there are limits in organic and fair-trade sourcing due to economies of scale and minimum order quantities (MOQs). However, we know we can all do something to minimize our footprint and be the best stewards we can of this beautiful world and its resources.

For our fall-winter collection, we decided to source material from the surplus, or deadstock, markets in New Delhi and Bangalore. What is surplus or deadstock fabric you ask? This is excess material produced by the mills that manufacture for the big fashion brands – this oversupply is usually intentional to ensure they have enough to fill the order in case a portion of fabric ends up flawed. Some of the fabric at these markets has small flaws that are work-around-able and some is just the extra produced. By “upcycling” these fabrics we are making use of textiles that have already been produced anyway and might otherwise go to waste.

Creatively speaking, it was a different type of challenge to be limited by what was available in the market instead of designing our own custom fabrics. But don’t let the names deadstock or surplus fool you. As always, we remain committed to using high quality all-natural fabrics. It was quite a quest to explore these markets and find the “gems”. Our fall-winter collection features linen, cotton-linen blend, corduroy, and handloom cotton. We look forward to sharing this collection with you!

Because of the limited nature of up-cycling, there isn’t a way to reorder the fabrics once they are gone. The dresses in this collection are truly unique and special.

Below are a couple glimpses of the journey to find the fabric for this season and to get it home to our studio workshop here in northeast India. It was quite an adventure!

Amar Jyoti with our found fabrics.Swahlee creates a handmade capsule wardrobe of clothing essentials made ethically in India using sustainable production and natural fabrics.
After the fabric was shipped to our city, we had to go to the shipper’s
warehouse, known locally as a “go down,” and pick it up.
In this photo, Amar Jyoti, our Admin Coordinator, has located our fabric.

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