Tucked away in the bowels of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is a 4,000-square-foot warehouse filled from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with garbage bags. They contain castoffs from New York’s fashion studios: mock-up pockets ripped from sample jeans, swatches in next season’s paisley print.
There is denim here in every wash, spandex in every hue. Dig through one bag and it is possible to find a little rug of carmine-colored fur and yards of gray pinstripe wool suiting. In another, embroidered patches from GapKids and spools of ribbon in velvet and lace.
Nearly 6,000 pounds of textile scraps arrive each week to be inspected, sorted and recycled by five staffers and many more volunteers at FabScrap, the nonprofit behind this operation. Since 2016, it has helped New York’s fashion studios recycle their design-room discards — the mutilated garments, dead-stock rolls and swatches that designers use to pick materials and assess prototypes.
So far, the organization has collected close to half a million pounds of fabric from the design studios of large retailers like Express, J. Crew and Marc Jacobs and independent clothiers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Their discards have been shredded and recycled into stuffing and insulation or resold to fashion students, educators and artists.