Not so long ago, deadstock – a term used to describe surplus materials – was considered something of a dirty word in fashion. “The first time we used deadstock and talked about it was in 2017,” Gabriela Hearst, who has set a goal of eliminating the use of virgin materials at her eponymous brand by the end of 2022, previously told Vogue. “It was like using a bad word: ‘You don’t say that word in the luxury vocabulary.’”
Thankfully, that’s all changed in recent years, with an increasing number of designers now using upcycled fabrics as sustainability concerns within the industry continue to grow. But the logistical challenges around sourcing and utilising deadstock still remain – which is where deadstock resale platform Nona Source, funded by Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH, comes in.
“When we saw these mountains of fabrics, which were so beautiful, it was natural to start this project,” co-founder Romain Brabo, a former materials buyer for Givenchy and Kenzo, tells Vogue. “There is real demand [for deadstock], and I think Covid has accelerated everything.”
Letting rolls and rolls of the highest-quality jacquards, chiffons and silks go to waste would be a crying shame at any rate – but particularly when you consider that the production of materials makes up the biggest part of fashion’s environmental footprint. “We are an accelerator for brands to think out of the box and to be able to create with waste,” Brabo continues. “It’s important because this is one of the first steps into a circular economy,” adds co-founder Anne Prieur du Perray.
So far, major LVMH brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine and Fendi are among those selling on their deadstock materials via Nona Source, with the platform aiming to have all the company’s fashion houses participating by the end of the year. “We have maisons [selling to us] but also buying from us, so we have internal circularity,” Prieur du Perray explains.
While LVMH-funded, the resale platform is open for everyone to buy from, with younger designers being a particular focus. “There are designers looking for quality materials but who can’t afford them because they’re very expensive, or the quantities they need to order are very high – so we [created an] offering that could match their needs,” Brabo says.
Among those is Richard Malone, who has long put sustainability at the heart of his brand’s ethos. “Nona Source has afforded us the opportunity to develop new ways of working – continuing to grow horizontally without it being so resource-intensive,” the designer explains. “[The platform] addresses some of the main problems that young designers face, including minimum order quantity requirements.”
“Working with Nona Source [is] beneficial for a small business and brand like my own, especially with their sustainable approach,” Bianca Saunders, another designer who uses Nona Source, adds. “Fabrics can be sourced online easily, with a quick turnaround time.”
Although Nona Source is primarily a digital platform, the company has launched showrooms in Paris and now in London, at The Mills Fabrica in King’s Cross, in order for designers to view the deadstock materials in person. “Our clients wanted to touch and feel before buying,” Brabo explains. “[Opening in London] is a really important step for us; we have so many designers here.”
While using deadstock is an imperfect solution going forward (much more needs to be done to tackle overproduction to begin with), making it as easy as possible for designers to utilize the leftover fabrics that currently exist can only be a good thing. “For now, we haven’t explored everything that we can do with deadstock,” Prieur du Perray concludes. “So it’s a journey – and we are only just beginning.”
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk