Zero-waste fashion

Zero-waste fashion refers to items of clothing that generate little or no textile waste in their production.[1][2][3][4] It can be considered to be a part of the broader Sustainable fashion movement. Often, waste is created by throwing out entire pieces of bolt due to a small imperfection in the fabric.[5] Zero-waste fashion strives to eliminate this. It can be divided into two general approaches. Pre-consumer zero-waste fashion eliminates waste during manufacture. Post-consumer zero-waste fashion generates clothing from post-consumer garments such as second-hand clothing, eliminating waste at what would normally be the end of the product use life of a garment. Zero-waste fashion is not a new concept[6] - early examples of zero-waste or near zero-waste garments include Kimono, Sari, Chiton and many other traditional folk costumes.

Pre-consumer zero-waste designEdit

Two general approaches fall under this category, both of which occur during a garment's initial production. In zero-waste fashion design the designer creates a garment through the pattern cutting process, working within the space of the fabric width.[2] This approach directly influences the design of the final garment as the pattern cutting process is a primary design step. It is difficult to design a zero-waste garment solely through sketching, although sketching can be a useful speculative tool. Zero-waste manufacture, of which zero-waste design is a component, is a holistic approach that can eliminate textile waste without modifying the garment patterns.

Zero-waste pattern designersEdit

Designers that have used this approach, or approaches to cutting that have an affinity with zero-waste fashion design, include

Andrew Williams [7]
Ernesto Thayaht
Shreya Upadhyaya
Bageeya Eco-clothing
Bernard Rudofsky
Claire McCardell
Zandra Rhodes
Siddhartha Upadhyaya[8]
Yeohlee Teng
Julian Roberts
Timo Rissanen[9][10]
Holly McQuillan
Tara St James[11]
Jennifer Whitty[12]
Samuel Formo[13]
Mark Liu[13]
David Telfer[14]
Julia Lumsden[15]
Katherine Soucie[17]
Dusanka Duric[18]
Daniel Silverstein
Charlene O'Brien[19]
Baiba Ladiga[20]
Natascha von Hirschhausen[21]
Shelly Xu [22]
Danielle Elsener [23]
Sookhyun Kim [24]

Zero-waste manufactureEdit

Approaches can include the use of technology such as whole garment knitting, but often waste is eliminated by reusing the off-cuts in other products. Designers and companies that have used these approaches include:

Alabama Chanin[25]
August (Direct Panel on Loom / DPOL) by Siddhartha Upadhyaya[8]
Pretcastle by Shreya Upadhyaya & Siddhartha Upadhyaya[26]
Issey Miyake
Sans Soucie
Worn Again[27]
Charlene O'Brien[19]

Differences from standard fashion productionEdit

The life expectancy of a garment has dwindled throughout the years. This has eroded the quality and decision making during the manufacturing of these pieces. Designers are seeking new ways to reuse existing garments to counter the millions of pounds in annual waste.[29]

A standard garment production process may begin with a drawing of the desired garment, a pattern is then generated to achieve this design, a marker is made to most efficiently use the fabric (without modifying the pattern shapes), the pattern pieces are then cut from the cloth, sewn, packed and distributed to retailers. Standard garment production generates and average of 15% textile waste[30] due to the stratification or hierarchy of the garment production process.

Post-consumer zero-wasteEdit

This design approach utilises the remnants of the fashion cycle to produce new garments from second hand or surplus goods. Practitioners include:

Martin Margiela
Nick Cave
Sans Soucie
Worn Again
Rhetorical Factory

Waste elimination hierarchyEdit

The waste hierarchy consists of the three 'R's' - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, in order of impact. Zero-waste fashion design eliminates pre-consumer textile waste, while not necessarily addressing waste created during the use life and disposal phase of the garment's life cycle.

Notable contributionsEdit


  • DPOL by Siddhartha Upadhyaya exhibited at London Science museum, Antenna Exhibition for its breakthrough in sustainable and zero waste fashion.
  • Bad Dogs by Timo Rissanen, UTS 2008.
  • ZERO Waste: Fashion Re-Patterned 2011. Curated by Arti Sandhu from Columbia College, Chicago.
  • YIELD: Making fashion without making waste 2011. Curated by Timo Rissanen and Holly McQuillan held at The Dowse Art Museum, New Zealand and Textile Arts Center, Brooklyn.[31]
  • AUGUST & AIGHT : A commercial show of Zero Waste / DPOL products exhibited by Siddhartha Upadhyaya and Shreya Upadhyaya at Ethical Fashion Show, Paris Fashion week, Sep 1–6, 2011


  1. ^ "The New York Times". Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  2. ^ a b Gwilt, Alison, and Timo Rissanen. Shaping Sustainable Fashion: Changing the Way We Make and Use Clothes. Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2011.
  3. ^ Hethorn, Janet, and Connie Ulasewicz. 2008. Sustainable Fashion: Why Now?: A Conversation Exploring Issues, Practices, and Possibilities. 1st ed. Fairchild Publications
  4. ^ "Using design practice to negotiate the awkward space between sustainability and fashion consumption". Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  5. ^ "WHAT IS ZERO-WASTE FASHION?". tonlé. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  6. ^ Rissanen, Timo. "From 15% to 0: Investigating the creation of fashion without the creation of fabric waste" (PDF). BUGIstudio. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2006.
  7. ^ "Zero-waste pattern designer".
  8. ^ a b "Indian Designer Creates Computer-Generated, Zero Waste Fashion for Spring 2012".
  9. ^ "Timo Rissanen". Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Timo Rissanen - Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability - Parsons School of Design". Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  11. ^ "About". Study New York.
  12. ^ "College of Creative Arts, Massey University Wellington - Jennifer Whitty".
  13. ^ a b Rissanen, Timo (14 September 2009). "Timo Rissanen: Fashion Creation Without Fabric Waste Creation: Sam Formo's zero-waste jacket".
  14. ^ "David Telfer ← Contributors ← Textile Toolbox". {{cite web}}: |first= missing |last= (help)
  15. ^ "YIELD:Julia Lumsden – habiliments". 5 April 2011.
  17. ^ "home". katherine soucie.
  18. ^ a b "DaRousso".
  19. ^ a b "Charlene O'Brien". LinkedIn. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  20. ^ "Baiba Ladiga Fashion design".
  21. ^ "Natascha von Hirschhausen". ethische Designermode aus Berlin.
  22. ^ "Shelly Xu Design".
  23. ^ "HOME". DECODE.
  24. ^ "Zero-waste fashion designer".
  25. ^ "Homepage". Alabama Chanin.
  26. ^ "Welcome to PRETCASTLE". Archived from the original on March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  27. ^ "Worn Again - Abundance. For Everyone. Forever". Worn Again Technologies.
  28. ^ "zero-waste, fair fashion – tonlé". tonlé.
  29. ^ Timo., Rissanen (6 September 2018). Zero waste fashion design. ISBN 978-1-350-09483-3. OCLC 1141966780.
  30. ^ ABERNATHY, F. H., DUNLOP, J. T., HAMMOND, J. H. & WEIL, D. (1999) A stitch in time. Lean retailing and the transformation of manufacturing - Lessons from the apparel and textile industries, New York & Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  31. ^ Rissanen, Timo (2011-09-08). "Yield catalogue now available". Timo Rissanen. Retrieved 2020-02-26.

External linksEdit