What is an eco friendly wedding dress?
The eco fabric market is growing (pun intended!) and there are innovative fabrics coming to the market to meet our needs. From banana leaves for leather to recycled fibers for new polyesters there is a growing choice. It’s a really exciting time to be sustainable.
Wedding dress fabrics tend to follow tradition, silk being by far the biggest tradition. It’s personal and debatable how eco and ethical silk is. Choosing a wedding dress is a personal and emotional choice, your own personal ethics will undoubtedly come into play, but will need to be balanced with costs and availability.
Silk as a eco fabric
This is a multifaceted debate and I will touch on a few of the options here. One could simply say silk is more eco than a polyester for example as it is a natural fabric. But then just like oil, it will have travelled miles in its creation journey and during it’s manufacture there may have been dyes or bleaches that end up in the water systems. And pesticides may have been used on the mulberry bushes that feed the silk worms. So what other silk options are available?
Organic Silk - no pesticides are used on the mulberry bushes that feed the silk worms. Even better if the silk is then Peace Silk. Peace silk is classed as a non violent silk, meaning the worms that then become months live a full life cycle of breaking out of the silk cocoon, mating and dying naturally, all though this still takes place in a controlled environment (farm). Organic peace silk still creates beautifully softly draping silk so this a great wedding dress option. One step further is Wild Silk - Tussah, cocoons collected or harvested from the wild. The moths live on a variety of plants and live a full life cycle breaking free of the cocoon before it is collected. Wild silk has a different drape and texture and a natural golden hue. This silk is seen less often in a traditional western wedding dress. Though we don’t know why! It is simply beautiful, the natural colour is so flattering, and it provides a great option for a structured gown.
Silk can also be blended with other fabrics such as hemp (a great eco fabric!), linen and organic cotton. When combined with these it does have less fluidity but is a sustainable option for lining a dress.
There are some beautiful eco fabrics out there that you wouldn’t commonly see in a wedding dress such as linen and organic cotton. Linen doesn’t need pesticides or much water to grow which makes it one of the most eco fabrics. It can be dyed naturally or with low impact dyes too. We think linen could be a great option for a fitted gown layered with lace to give it a luxurious feel or for a fuller skirt underneath lace. Organic cotton is beautiful and unbleached a natural creamy colour. Linen and cotton are brilliant natural alternatives for vegan brides.
Rising in popularity
Bamboo viscose or other pulp viscose. These wood pulps are grown without the use of pesticides and grow quickly. Though their rise in popularity has had an impact on land as farmers choose to grow them instead of original forests or more suitable crop. So sourcing is important as is manufacture. To turn wood pulp into a yearn it requires chemicals, so the use of a closed loop system is important. In this system the chemicals are reused over and over and not leached out into the water system. Bamboo too can be combined with other materials for example to create a jersey as in our bridesmaids collection and it can also be woven to create a silk like fabric!
What about other factors?
We all know that being eco isn’t just about fabric choice. So when you are considering your eco dress it might be as or more important to you how far things have travelled. Cottons and silks travel over to us from Asia to be made into laces or fabrics in Europe. If your dress is then made in another location before coming to the designer in the UK for inspection and then being sent to you or a store that adds even more travel miles. In addition to the travel there is the manufacture to consider, the use of energy to power the lights and the sewing machine.
Sorry I think I have just demonstrated how being eco is a bit of a minefield!
Navigating the minefield
How do you navigate this minefield? How can you choose an eco dress? When choosing your dress you aren’t just considering fabric or air miles you are considering style, location and cost. This automatically helps you to narrow the choices and helps you to find your dress. So for example you have decided you aren’t searching abroad for a dress as you don’t want to add to the air miles, you have a budget of £1500 and you don’t want to buy vintage, plus that budget allows something new. With this as an example what are your eco options? Your options could include - using a British based designer and maker (that makes in the UK) to reduce the air miles a bit more, choose someone that includes some if not all more eco and natural fabrics or buy something preloved, or if you are within Cheshire come and see us about a bespoke eco dress.
We hope this has explained a bit behind making an eco friendly wedding dress choice. As we learn, make and grow we will share our knowledge with you to help you make more informed choices.
Here are some of our eco choices: