What Can Be Considered A Sustainable Wedding Dress?
There are several levels of sustainability when it comes to the items we purchase. There is no single universal method for judging product sustainability, making it difficult to select the best products that align with our values. All of this suggests that we must be aware of the right questions to ask.
What is sustainability?
The term "sustainable" is used in a variety of ways, including "ethical," "environmentally friendly," "green," "eco-friendly," and "environmentally conscious." This makes it difficult to comprehend the broad topic of sustainable bridal wear and fashion in general.
Sustainability is the ability to sustain. It attempts to maintain the state of the environment and the ethical standards of society as high as possible. To make it easier to understand sustainability, you can think of it as divided into two distinct but interconnected categories of problems: environmental problems and ethical problems. In my opinion, there are two most important factors in wedding dresses in the sustainability point of view.
- The fabrics, which determine how damaging to the environment the composition of the fabrics is (compare sustainable materials and non-sustainable materials)
- And the dress's manufacturing, which determines the social impact of the dress, such as fair pay (compare mass-produced to handmade).
These two are connected in a number of different ways. For instance, if the dress is mass-produced in a faraway country, the delivery raises issues with both the environment and social impact. Also, the processes used to produce the materials of the wedding dress may be harmful to humans, and so cause a negative impact on social and ethical issues.
How can a wedding dress be sustainable?
Can a wedding dress be regarded as sustainable if it is handcrafted from polyester satin produced in China? It's unquestionably more sustainable than a mass-produced bridal gown made of polyester satin that was produced in China. Yet, it's also not as sustainable as a handmade wedding dress made from organic bamboo or any locally made fabric. Like other products, there are a number of ways that wedding dresses might be regarded as sustainable. These have to do with either the materials of the dress, or the production of it. Some of the features of a sustainable wedding dress:
- It’s handmade instead of factory-made
- It’s made-to-order instead of mass-produced
- It’s made locally
- It’s made from sustainable fabrics (locally manufactured, organic, recycled, manufactured in a closed loop process etc. Ask for certifications.)
- You can wear it again
- You can repurpose it and maybe make it into something new (christening gown for your child?)
- It’s second hand or vintage
- It’s made of second hand, vintage or deadstock fabrics
The more of these boxes your dress ticks, the more sustainable wedding dress you have chosen.
Ask the right questions
I'd suggest doing your homework before visiting any bridal shops. The boutique is probably not a good fit for you if they make no mention of their dedication to sustainability on their website. You are always welcome to call and ask if the dresses they stock are sustainable in any way.
When shopping for a sustainable wedding dress, ask the bridal consultant about the manufacturing and the materials of the gowns they stock. Consultants from conscious and ethical companies should know the answers or be capable of finding them and come back to you with the information. If you receive a simple, honest response, even if it turns out for instance that not all of the dress's materials are sustainable, it indicates that the company is ethical and honest. The secret to successful sustainable business today is transparency.
Questions you can ask:
- Where was the wedding dress made?
- What material is the dress made of? Be aware of answers like “satin” or “crepe”. Why? Find out more from our previous blog entry on fabric materials and weaves.
- What material is the lining of the dress made of? You may read more about the fabrics we use here.
- Do the materials have sustainability certificates?
- Is the dress made-to-order? (This means made when the dress is ordered. Made-to-measure means entirely different.)
- Can I bring it back to have it altered so that I can wear it on other occasions, like having it made shorter, for instance?
Read more about Indiebride London’s commitment to sustainability here and as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any enquiries.
Lastly, I have to brag. Just a little because I’m so proud of the efforts we put into making our dresses as sustainable as possible. Except for two, all of the materials we use to make our wedding dresses are environmentally friendly in one or more ways. They are either manufactured in the UK, made from organic or otherwise sustainable fibres, manufactured in a closed loop process, deadstock fabrics or a combination of two of these. You can even have a dress that is made in the UK from the fibres of the fabric to the making of the actual dress. For the upcoming collection, we will give up using the two laces that have no sustainable credentials because we are constantly striving to improve and in the future will only use fabrics that have at least one sustainable element. We have been able to source some new exciting sustainable materials for our upcoming collection and I can’t wait to tell you more!