Zero-waste Fashion: A New-wave Sustainable Fashion Practice

Today, the fashion landscape has changed completely. Consumer mindset has also undergone a transformative change. Gen Z and millennials care about the planet, conversing water and reducing the carbon footprint. Thus, they’re looking at fashion from a different perspective and to meet their demand, fashion and apparel manufacturers are changing the way they make their garments. Fast fashion is being replaced by slow fashion, thrifting and recycling. A new practice that has forayed into the sustainable fashion space is zero-waste fashion.

What is Zero-waste Fashion?

It’s not really a buzzword or a hip thing to talk about. As the name implies, zero waste fashion aims at minimising textile waste. Waste reduction can be achieved by making garments from sustainable materials, incorporating recycled materials in production, using manufacturing methods that require minimal fabric cutting and upcycling of existing garments.

We’re all aware that the fashion industry creates a massive amount of waste that harms the environment. However, thanks to the recent push towards ethical practices, manufacturers are now using textile scraps, leftover fabric and paper waste when creating garments. More than being a new process, zero-waste fashion is a new way of thinking. It not just reduces garbage in the production cycle but helps in recycling scraps.

There are two ways of going about zero-waste fashion – creative pattern making that uses 100% of scrap material or upcycling of remnant material.

Though it can be a challenge to create clothing without any waste, there are several brands that are nailing the game.

Reducing fashion waste is not something that can only be done once the garment is manufactured. The elimination of waste can be done at various stages of the manufacturing process. In fact, it begins way before the manufacturing process.

Pre-consumer Zero Waste Fashion

This concept revolves around zero-waste design or zero-waste pattern making. It’s the practice of designing clothes with little or no fabric waste. In this technique, the designer usually creates garments by using every tiny scrap of fabric thereby eliminating the need for sewing patterns. For example, they fit flat pieces of clothing like a jigsaw puzzle so that no fabric is wasted. A few manufacturers even create their own fabric from recycled materials like used plastic bottles. This practice not just eliminates waste but also reduces the need to buy/use new materials. The energy production in the process is also considerably reduced. Consumers too prefer buying from brands that use reclaimed materials in the manufacturing process.

Post-consumer Zero Waste Fashion

As the name implies, post-consumer zero-waste fashion refers to reusing and recycling clothing after it has been sold to the consumer. A few ways in which this can be done are:

  •         Upcycling

Everyone is familiar with the term recycling. However, very few people know what upcycling means. It involves taking an old piece of clothing and creating a new garment. For example, creating an outfit from an old saree is a common upcycling method. You can even give the garment a new lease by adding embellishments, changing the shape or reusing the fabric to create household items.

  •         Capsule Wardrobe

Minimalist fashion is another zero-waste fashion technique. The aim is to create a capsule wardrobe. For those unaware, a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of high-quality clothes that can be mixed and matched to create an array of looks. Consumers have become unpaid advocates of this trend as it saves them money, time and space, and has a positive effect on the environment.

  •         Slow Fashion

Slow fashion refers to a movement of producing garments mindfully. It is the opposite of fast fashion that relies on cheap, mass-produced clothes. Slow fashion designers usually make garments that will last for years. The styles are timeless and the fabrics chosen are of the highest quality.

  •         DIY Fashion

You’ll be surprised to know that a lot of people make their own clothing. This option is great if you want your apparel to be unique and made from sustainable materials. If you’ve completed a BSc in fashion and apparel design, you’ll know better about textile science, garment construction, fashion illustration, garment making and apparel production in general.


The aim of every upcoming fashion designer should be to create a more sustainable industry. It’s high time brands focus on the entire process from production to consumption. The hope for a zero-waste future can make a huge difference. When every brand spreads awareness, the throwaway culture can be eliminated considerably. If you as a consumer want to make a difference, pursuing a career in fashion design is a good idea. At Vogue Institute of Art & Design, we offer undergraduate, post-graduate and diploma fashion designing courses in Bangalore.

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