Why Sustainability In Wedding Fashion Is More Important Than Ever

Why Sustainability In Wedding Fashion Is More Important Than Ever

Daisy Moss Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Many of us dream about what we will wear on our wedding day, without considering the impact this choice might have on the environment. In other areas of our life, there has been an increasing amount of pressure to make more sustainable choices (as there should be), yet one of the most wasteful and damaging industries in the world seems to have been bypassed somehow.

When it comes to sustainability, our individual choices can contribute to serious change over a lifetime and making conscious choices when it comes to your wedding is something you should seriously consider. Knowing why sustainability in wedding fashion is so important, as well as simple changes you can make to be more mindful, is something we should work hard to do.

Thumbnail: Rewritten, via Something Borrowed rental service

This is a guest post from Daisy Moss. Daisy is a freelance writer specialising in sustainable living. Aside from her love of writing and making her life more eco-friendly, Daisy loves to read a good book!

The Current Issues With The Wedding Fashion Industry

The harsh truth of the matter is that the majority of wedding outfits, namely wedding dresses, are unsustainable. Quite simply, the current model when it comes to wedding fashion is seriously damaging, especially considering there are around 280,000 a year in the UK. Whilst of course not every wedding will involve a brand new dress or suit for a huge event, it is safe to assume that a significant amount of waste is produced as a result of wedding fashion alone.

Single Wear

Firstly, wedding dresses are usually worn once. Wedding suits or more non-traditional choices like jumpsuits are usually worn throughout a person's lifetime more so than dresses, although this isn’t always the case. This has huge implications in terms of both production and disposal.

Within this industry specifically, it is believed that as many people keep their dresses for a lifetime, disposability is not as much of an issue. However, during the production process, a lot of this material is actually cut away and then discarded as it is not needed. Let’s face it, because of current infrastructure and systems, it is unlikely that this material is then re-used or disposed of in a thoughtful and sustainable way.

Due to sentimental value, many people also refuse to sell their dress on meaning a significant amount of waste and environmental damage was produced for that one day.

Image: Gemma Leakey, sustainable bridalwear designer

Resource Intensive Materials

Also, the types of materials used for wedding dresses and suits are usually very resource-intensive. Fabrics such as chiffon and tulle require a considerable amount of water, energy, and damaging chemicals for the manufacturing process, and during the fibre production, dyeing and bleaching processes too. Additionally, even more sustainable options like silk fibres are associated with risks to agriculture, animal rights and water consumption. Not to mention, these materials may be created in one country, shipped to another to have the outfit made, before being sent to you.

Typical fabrics used to create suits include polyester, and without sufficient waste water management systems in place, this can release potentially dangerous substances into the environment. Alongside this, polyester is made of an oil-based plastic, which is not biodegradable. Alternatives like wool and cotton are more eco-friendly when sourced organically and locally.

Damaging To The Environment

Wedding fashion is a significant contributor to environmental damage. The pollution caused by bleaches, surfactants and finishes that are used to colour (or in this case, make white) fibres and fabrics is the second highest water polluting process in the world according to the UNEP. These processes can actually pose huge health risks to the communities that are exploited for their natural materials. With the right choices, you can completely remove yourself from any part of this dangerous supply chain.

To summarise, the impact on the environment for a piece of clothing that is worn once is largely unjustified. If we all make the effort to educate ourselves on more sustainable options, the potential change is magnificent.

How To Make More Conscious Choices For Your Wedding Day

Now that we know a bit more about the multi-faceted way in which wedding fashion can be damaging, it’s time to learn how we can make more conscious choices.

Rent Your Wedding Outfit

The first thing you can do to be more conscious is to rent your wedding outfit. Whether you are wanting to hire a suit or hire a dress, there are fantastic companies that are affordable and accessible. There are so many benefits to renting your outfit: as it is a much more affordable option, you can access outfits that you might not have been able to afford were you buying outright. Additionally, it is such a simple process that you won’t have to wait months for it to arrive and it can be your something borrowed! After the day, you don’t need to be concerned about cleaning any spillages as the outfits will usually include dry cleaning in the price upon return. And we haven’t even gotten onto the environmental benefits.

Of course, the rented outfit will still need to be produced. However, instead of one person wearing it, it will bring joy to many different people over its lifetime. Plus, companies who rent out wedding outfits are likely to be environmentally conscious, so you know that they will be disposed of in a sustainable way once they are worn out (if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask). People may be concerned about the outfit not being in the best condition, but rest assured, they arrive looking brand new. This is such a wonderful alternative to buying your outfit that has endless benefits.

Images: Oui The Label rental bridalwear / Rewritten designed and handmade in London

Moss Bros post-lockdown wedding vibes

Choose Vintage

Another option for your wedding outfit is to go vintage. Firstly, vintage wedding dresses and suits often have a stunning timeless quality that will bring something exceptional to your day. The expertise and materials used to create vintage clothing are not common anymore but are exceptionally beautiful. You will also pay a fraction of the price compared to modern alternatives! For example, Brighton Vintage Brides sell beautiful vintage wedding dresses that are really affordable and exceptionally beautiful.

Images: Vintage dress from Heavenly Vintage Brides

Vintage wedding dresses and suits can also be easily tailored, so it will look and feel like the outfit has been made just for you. The same goes for suits, with tailors being able to completely transform slightly older looking pieces.

Finally, vintage is of course a greener way to shop. Recycling old garments and giving them a new lease of life is the most environmentally friendly thing you can do, especially when you allow the piece to continue its journey to other owners afterwards! You are completely avoiding the traditional wedding outfit supply chain. 

Antique Jewellery

It’s not just your dress or suit that you can go vintage with, as vintage jewellery is a wonderful choice, both for vintage engagement rings as well as actual wedding rings. The jewellery industry is problematic on many levels, so vintage is a beautiful and conscious choice. The quality of vintage jewellery is often unparalleled in modern equivalents and they are much more affordable for the same quality. If you do opt for vintage outfits, there is nothing better to compliment it with than vintage jewellery.

Image: Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

Learning more about how we can make each component of our lives more sustainable is so important for our future, which includes considering better choices for our wedding fashion. Hopefully we have shown just how damaging the wedding fashion industry can be. With the alternatives above, you will not have to compromise on quality or beauty, but you will be doing your bit when it comes to the environment.

Additional reading:

Weddings in a post lockdown world [Moss Bros]

What to do if you are a bridalwear designer?

Learn more from these Masterclasses and Lessons to help you recognise what systems or strategies you could implement in your own business, to make and create more sustainable and ethical wedding fashion.

Examining The Ethics And Sustainability Of Silk Masterclass

Zero Waste Fashion Masterclass

Introduction To Pattern Cutting Masterclass

How To Build A Sustainable Business Model Masterclass

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