The rise of sustainable wedding dresses

28 Oct 2020

We chat to World of Worn Founder Annie Barker, and bridal designer Sabina Motasem, about sustainable bride style 

Image gallery

Image gallery

When Princess Beatrice wore the Queen’s Norman Hartnell dress for her wedding to Count Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on July 17 2020, she sparked lots of interest in sustainable wedding dresses - inspiring many brides-to-be to buy second-hand or sustainable dresses for their big day.

World of Worn founder, Annie Barker, said: "The fast fashion industry generates 100 billion garments each year and is one of the most polluting industries in the world, after oil. Collections are restocked every four to six weeks, which means consumers are pressured to buy more and think less, leaving a huge amount of unwanted clothing to eventually be discarded at landfill - over 300,000 tonnes in the UK alone each year. 

"Shopping vintage is an incredibly important and fun way to shop sustainably - buying preloved vintage means fewer polluting resources are being used to make brand new clothing, and prolongs the life of an item and redirects it from landfill. You do not have to surrender your style in aid of sustainability, vintage provides both with great quality in line with timeless trends."

When Laura Degiorgio and Stephen White tied the knot at the Inn on the Lake in Shorne, Gravesend, Laura, who is also the hotel manager of the Inn on the Lake, wanted to make sure her wedding was as eco-friendly as possible. 

“After working at a lot of weddings, I saw first-hand the aftermath of waste, so it was incredibly important for Stephen and I to create as zero waste as possible”, Laura explains. "My Watters WTOO wedding dress, from Bridal Indulgence in Crondall, was also vegan friendly as it contained no silk.”

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Above: Empress Josephine and Violet dresses by Sabina Motasen / Photography: Roger Wooldridge, Styling: Rebekah Roy, Make-up: Birute Thomas, Hair: Duboux, Hair Accessories: Victoria Fergusson

Cult bridal brand, Sabina Motasem, launched The Green Collection earlier this year - a new fashion line of vegan, luxe and eco-friendly pieces.

The collection, made in London, starts at just £975, offering an affordable, sustainable option for the cost-conscious bride. 

Founder and designer, Sabina Motasem, said: “They say necessity is the mother of invention – we always wanted to create a secondary line long before the pandemic came along. A whole season of weddings [including my own] have had to adapt. As weddings begin again, in a new way, brides are re-evaluating what they want from their big day.”

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Above: Anise, Posy and Elsa Sass dresses by Sabina Motasen / Photography: Roger Wooldridge, Styling: Rebekah Roy, Make-up: Birute Thomas, Hair: Duboux, Hair Accessories: Victoria Fergusson

British brand Indiebride London is known for its zero-waste approach to its bohemian wedding dress collections, with fabrics ordered on purchase to ensure there is nothing left over. 

Another British label who has fast established itself for sustainable fashion is Mother of Pearl, from recycling wool to make new designs to using organic and natural fibres in collections which will biodegrade much faster and in a less damaging way than synthetic fibres.

Norwich-based White Reflections Bridal stock bespoke, ethical bridalwear by Mia Sylvia - a UK designer specialising in sustainable, hand-foraged pigments and re-purposed textiles.

The team behind Mia Sylvia create dyes with hand foraged and natural ingredients using chrysanthemums, avocado stones, raw pigments, spices, foliage and even rusted metal. Their passion for zero-waste also extends to transforming textiles destined for the dump into beautiful new pieces.

You can also find an old vintage favourite and bring it back to life down the aisle with pre-loved bridal dresses from charity boutiques such as Bridal RelovedThe Wedding Wishing Well Foundation's 'La Boutique' shop and The Big C Bridal Boutique. Buying a pre-loved wedding dress is not only a sustainable and waste-free way of making an environmental difference on your big day, but your purchase will help raise money for charities. 

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Above: Inside La Boutique where profits from their pre-loved wedding dresses go to The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation / Photography: Tara Statton 

So, what should you look out for when buying vintage? World of Worn founder, Annie Barker, said: "A key thing to look out for when buying preloved fashion pieces is quality, one of the main reasons shopping sustainable vintage is on the rise is heavily based on the fact that 'they just don't make them like they used to'. Additionally, if you are buying a designer vintage piece at a higher price, be sure to check that it’s 100% authentic, if not, vintage brands will often state the item as a ‘bootleg’. Finally, be sure to look out for the brand's mission and outlook on sustainability, is it a big part of what they do or is it just a buzzword used to drive sales?"

Did you wear a pre-loved or recycled wedding dress for your big day? Email megan.goodwin@archant.co.uk for a chance to be featured! 

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