Something Old, Something New: How to Find a Sustainable Wedding Dress
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.
Indie Bride London
This bohemian-inspired bridal company keeps its production as low waste as possible by creating waistbands and embellished veils with leftover fabric. Each dress is made to order, ensuring no dress goes to waste. Find dresses of all lengths, shapes and styles in addition to two pieces, perfect for re-styling post wedding.
This Instagram-favourite has curated a bridal section worthy of any influencer’s dreams. Each style of dress is available as a white bridal version or in a multitude of colours and patterns, making bridesmaid dress shopping a little easier also. Reformation prides itself on transparency, with its ‘RefScale’ documenting the carbon, water and waste savings of each dress. In comparison to sometimes heart-breaking wedding dress prices, these dresses are priced at the lower end of the budget – meaning you don’t have to compromise elsewhere!
Mother of Pearl
In keeping with the brand ethos of ‘serious fashion, not to be worn too seriously’, Mother of Pearl’s bridal range is the epitome of glamour. Focusing on natural and organic fibres, its combination of organic peace silk and bamboo silk ensures that these Carrie Bradshaw-esque gowns are conscious from start to finish. And, of course, each dress features the brand’s signature pearls.
Celia Grace focuses on sustainability as a whole using natural materials and recycled dead-stock fabrics, in addition to being labelled as the ‘first bridal line to exclusively operate under fair trade certification’. In order to combat the typical fashion model of seasonal releases, it opts for slow drops that build to form a beautifully bespoke collection. If dresses aren’t for you, search its alternative options of two pieces and jumpsuits.
If you want to a high-fashion label but don’t want to compromise on sustainability, Stella McCartney’s 17 piece ‘Made with Love’ bridal collection is for you. The company’s transparency on everything from circularity and materials to the supply chain means being able to safely invest in a bridal dress you can trust. Effortlessly sleek and simply timeless, this collection is by appointment only so naturally comes at the higher end of the price scale.
Leila Hafzi is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative. It’s focus on responsible human rights throughout its supply chains makes it one of the first ‘high-end ethical and eco conscious fashion brands’. Beautifully ethereal, each collection embodies a different mood, from embroidered florals that seem almost fairy-tale esque to flapper-style beading and feminine florals in blush.
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.