Trim The Waste: Zero-Waste Clothing Design

Hereís a quick Q&A:
1. Do you eat organic food?
2. Do you bring your cloth bags with you when you go shopping?
3. Do you recycle?
4. Do you compost?
5. Do you buy clothes that are made from leftover scraps of fabric?

If you checked the first four in the affirmative, and puzzled over why you are even answering number 5, youíre not alone. This question never even entered my eco-radar. If you are like me, you like your clothes comfortable, stylish and made from (mostly) natural fibers. A trend towards fashion-forward zero-waste clothing is a positive move in the right direction. Not just for the green factor, but also because it means the design world is concerned with closing the cradle to cradle loop by finding ways to truly make our lives and this planet more sustainable.

This week, the New York Times ran an article that highlighted a Parsons The New School of Design course in zero-waste fashion design.

Why zero-waste clothing design?
ďZero-waste design strives to create clothing patterns that leave not so much as a scrap of fabric on the cutting room floor. This is not some wacky avant-garde exercise; itís a way to eliminate millions of tons of garbage a year. Apparel industry professionals say that about 15 to 20 percent of the fabric used to produce clothing winds up in the nationís landfills because itís cheaper to dump the scraps than to recycle them.Ē

How are zero-waste clothes made?

The designers create a garment pattern that fitís together like a puzzle. One way to eliminate waste is to create a garment puzzle. In the process, the designer drapes the fabric directly onto the mannequin without cutting. One designer, Timo Rissanen explains how the fabric is salvaged on his blog, Zero Fabric Waste Fashion.

Those of us with the DIY ethos have experienced the process of using zero-waste design principles in our creations. This article makes me hopeful that the next generation of designers has taken the tenets of green to heart, and are incorporating them into the creative process of clothing design.

Trim the waste?

This is something consumers can get behind. Now, how will the big companies respond to zero-waste clothing?


Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga4 years ago


Emma S.
Emma S4 years ago

Maybe next year I'll be able to make time to do more sewing. I almost always wear second-hand clothes - either from charity shops or passed on by family and friends. Where I live, textiles can be recycled for nothing.

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

Very interesting concept!

Vicky Barman
Past Member 5 years ago

good article...

ii q.
g d c5 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for the informative article.

Linda Robinson
Past Member 6 years ago

Cool. Love cradle to cradle design, manufacturing et al. Thank you for sharing.

anon m.
g d c6 years ago

When the older generations did this, they were called poor!

Radmila Juric
Radmila J7 years ago

This is what I do all the time. Amazing idea and makes me sooo happy.

Melinda Lake
Melinda Lake7 years ago

A very neat idea and an interesting story !