How Unmade is tackling fashion’s waste problem

Fashion and tech startup Unmade is using interaction design, digital technology and engineering to change the way we shop for products – and the way garments are made. We talk to co-founder Hal Watts about the company’s work

Waste is one of the biggest problems facing the fashion industry – as demonstrated by the recent news that <a href=”″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Burberry burned over £26 million of leftover stock</a> in 2017. The brand’s decision to set light to thousands of bags, shoes and clothes prompted a furious response on social media – but it isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s common practice.

Luxury fashion brands are built on exclusivity – on making products that are available to a select few. They could donate leftover items to a good cause or sell them off cheaply, but this would undermine the value of their goods and their brand’s credibility. So if you’re a brand like Burberry, torching a product can seem preferable to giving it away.

The obvious solution to this problem is to make less. But fashion brands – and luxury fashion houses in particular – rely on complex supply chains. Manufacturing is outsourced to countries where labour and production is cheap and making things in large volumes makes this cheaper still. Fashion is also playing a guessing game: when it comes to ordering stock, brands have to predict what will be popular in 12 months time. As that’s impossible to do, they tend to over order – which means lots of shoes and bags left sitting in warehouses.

<img class=”wp-image-112140 size-full” src=”” alt=”” width=”2000″ height=”1333″ /> Above and lead image (top): Unmade’s collaboration with Farfetch and Opening Ceremony