Conscious Couples Blog

What is a sustainable wedding dress? What makes it sustainable?

Apr 24, 2021

As part of Fashion Revolution Week we’re talking more about sustainable fashion, and in particular sustainable wedding fashion.

Sustainable fashion is about slowing down the process, looking at all the elements that go into making a garment, and considering the environmental and social impact of the end product.

When you think about any item of clothing it has an environmental impact at every stage of its life – from the field it’s grown in, the pesticides used to protect the crops, or the production of man-made plastic fibres from crude oil. Then there’s the energy used to create the garment, transportation carbon footprint to get it to you, how many times you’ll wear it and it’s after life. From a social impact perspective, it’s about ensuring the company have ethical processes, invest in their staff and pay a fair wage.

“If we can make better choices we must.” Kate Atkinson, Bridal Reloved


Two really simple things you can do when searching for your wedding dress

Look at the label. There are many ethical certification schemes that can help you to choose the right dress, some of the most well-known include: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) and the FAIRTRADE Cotton Program mark.

Avoid synthetic fabrics, fur and leather. In addition, despite the sustainable claims, viscose clothing, (aka rayon or bamboo) has a very polluting manufacturing process. Instead look for cleaner viscose fabrics, labelled as lyocell (Tencel or Monocel).

In general fabrics that have the lowest negative environmental impact are recycled or organic. Next you have lyocell, linen and hemp, followed by Modal, acrylic and polyester, and then the worst offending conventional cotton, non-lyocell viscose, rayon, elastane, nylon and wool.


“There are different options for brides to consider when thinking about their wedding dress in particular. Especially considering a wedding dress is made to be used for just a wedding day, it’s a one-time one wear purchase.”

Kate Atkinson, Bridal Reloved


What are my options when looking for a sustainable wedding dress?

From a boutique – Look for a store that stocks environmentally conscious brands

Buy pre-loved – In the UK we are lucky to have various ways to buy pre-loved dresses, from bridal stores like Bridal Reloved, to dedicated wedding re-sale websites like Sell my Wedding and Recycle my Wedding.

Have a bespoke gown made – Choose a dress designer that advocates slow fashion, one that will take the time to design your perfect dress, using sustainable fabrics and an ethical supply chain.


Images from the ‘Where the wild things grow’ 2022 collection from Jessica Turner Designs. Photography by Ellen Sear Photography


Why is sustainable fashion important? Why should brides care about it?

There are many reasons why sustainability is important. Our planet is struggling to cope. The textile industry contributes to 300,000 tonnes of clothing ending up in landfill, some of these clothes are made of plastic which seems to be seeping into our food chain through washing our clothes made of polyester or throwing away clothes that are made from man-made fabrics.

We all need to take responsibility, and one way we can reduce the harmful effects of the textile industry is to say no to fast fashion, and instead choose brands that are using kinder fabrics, like organic cotton and peace silk. We need to buy less, wear what we own more and really consider alternative to always buying new.

“Slow fashion is important to me, I produce less by creating hand painted illustrations that will give the bride an idea for a bespoke dress.  They can take the design and tweak it to become their own unique gown.”

Jessica Turner, Jessica Turner Designs


How can I find a sustainable dress designer?

Environmentally conscious, sustainable brands are becoming increasingly popular. With more designers than ever are choosing to work sustainably, using environmentally friendly fabrics, and advocating slow fashion.

Bohyne – Fair trade crafted gowns, jumpsuits and separates for your ceremony and every day after

Leanne Marshall Bridal – Leanne Marshall modern wedding dresses are sustainably handmade in NY featuring nontraditional dresses, watercolor gowns, painted wedding dress, raincloud dress, evening gowns, ready to wear and NYFW collections.

Sanyukta ShresthaMulti-award Winning, Sustainable Luxury Bridal since 2011. Ethical Fashion by empowering women in Nepal since 1998.

Luna Bride – Yorkshire based leading designer of beautiful ethical wedding dresses.

Jessica Tuner Designs – Wildly fanciful bridal wear, ethically made in London.


Sustainable Wedding Fashion

Dress from the ‘Where the wild things grow’ 2022 collection from Jessica Turner Designs. Photography by Ellen Sear Photography

“There are so many wedding dress shops now with rails and rails of wedding dresses, I think we all need to take a look at creating less and think of ways to be more sustainable, not just with the sustainable fabrics but also with the amount we produce.


Brides will also need to try and think about the way they shop, try to shop local or choose a designer from their own country to reduce the carbon footprint. Also, check where the fabric is made or how it is made, and what the dresses are made out of.  These are all small steps to support a sustainable future in the bridal industry.” Jessica Turner, Jessica Turner Designs


What about sustainable, wedding rings, bridal accessories and shoes?

There are now conscious companies that can provide you with everything you need for your wedding, from ethically sourced diamond engagement rings, eco resin earrings and vegan bridal shoes. We’ve included a few below, but it’s likely that there a handful of talented designer makers in your local area too!

BeyondSkin – Designer vegan shoes and boots. Founded in 2001 with the objective of offering luxury vegan footwear showcasing individuality, authenticity and sustainability. They’ve created a brand for the discerning, for those who care about where their fashion comes from and what it stands for, pioneering the way in sustainable fashion.

Hello Stud – Eco resin earrings. Hello Stud is inspired by femininity and natural, earthy tones. Each piece is individually designed and handcrafted using hand coloured and poured eco resin. The resin is made with renewable plant-based carbon, in place of traditional petroleum-based carbon. This process reduces the environmental impact through a reduction in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, producing less by-products and reducing power and water consumption.

Jacqueline & Edward – Jewellery made from recycled precious metals and diamonds, lab grown diamonds and natural sustainably panned river gold from around the UK.

Eco Wood Rings – Handcrafted rings, lovingly made from salvaged or sustainably grown wood and recycled or Fairtrade precious metals.

Aura Muse – Unconventional engagement and wedding rings with a natural and rustic vibe, made using sustainable materials and mindfully collected gemstones.

Vintage wax headbands – Designed by Julia of Vintage Wax Headbands, in her Hampshire studio. All pieces are entirely handmade and completely original.


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