Something Old, Something New: How to Find a Sustainable Wedding Dress

By Sophie Parsons

Saying yes to the dress doesn't mean saying no to your eco-principles; discover how to shop for your dream sustainable wedding dress.

Sustainable fashion, #30Wears and investment pieces are all grounded in wearing your clothes over again and avoiding unnecessary, one-off purchases. Knowing this, sourcing a sustainable wedding dress doesn’t really seem achievable. If you’ve gone to the effort of ensuring your day is as plastic-free as possible, that the honeymoon travel has been carbon-offset and the eco-resort booked, it seems almost counter-intuitive for your wedding dress not to be bought with the same consideration.

In addition to the unsustainable one-wear nature of a wedding dress, more often than not the fabric of the dress itself can pose problems for those wanting to consider the environment. Silk, perhaps the most common material for a wedding dress, is produced commercially using the mulberry silkworm, an process that is resource intensive due to the land usage for the cultivation of mulberry trees, chemicals, water and energy. With much of the silk industry relying heavily on pesticides and highly carcinogenic chemicals, opting for organic silk ensures that both the environment and the workers are protected from the negative impacts of the chemicals. For the fabric itself, peace silk or wild silk avoids the killing of the silkworms - though vintage and recycling is the ultimate way to minimise the negative impacts of silk production.

Second-hand and Vintage

Perhaps the easiest way to ensure your dress is having as minimal an impact on the planet as possible is to opt for second-hand, with the added bonus of being a fraction of the price. Whether this means trawling through Still White for a designer dress you otherwise couldn’t afford, or hunting down the perfect vintage style on the Real Green Dress (a vintage shop that prides itself on being ‘green’), buying second-hand helps to give a dress that would otherwise end up in a dusty cupboard a renewed purpose.

Sustainable Companies of note

If you have your heart set on having your own dress, or you can’t find a style you love second-hand, here are a few slow fashion companies that focus on natural materials and are transparent about their supply chains, meaning you don't have to compromise on ethics for your dream dress.

Be inspired by Alice Temperley's use of natural dyes to repurpose old wedding dresses.

Source a sustainable suit for the groom with Nick Hopper's guide.

Plan a sustainable hen or stag do with these tips.

Something Old, Something New: How to Find a Sustainable Wedding Dress