15 Bridal Outfit Designers That Prioritize Authenticity And … – Women.com
It’s safe to say that wedding dresses have a bit of a reputation for not always being the most sustainable garments on the market, as they tend to be created using materials that aren’t eco-friendly and tend to only be worn once. We’re also finding that bridal outfits are, in some cases, getting cheaper thanks to the advancement in materials like polyester, but that just means in many cases that they’re also getting worse for the environment. “While these seemingly affordable wedding dresses cost the buyer little, they often come at a high price to the environment,” Clare Szabo, founder and designer at River Elliot Bridal, told Magpie Wedding. “Fossil fuels, which emit high levels of CO2 when burned, warm the atmosphere to trigger climate change and rising sea levels. So, before your wedding dress has even been designed and stitched together, it has already racked up a rather large trail of pollution and a sizeable environmental footprint,” she added.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of companies doing their bit to create sustainability in the bridal wear industry, as well as offering something other than your traditional big white wedding dress. So where can you go to get something unique that won’t cost the world — in more ways than one? Well, Women.com has rounded up some of the best companies out there that are offering a different take on wedding outfits that are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and sustainable at the same time.
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Reformation offers a number of outfits for brides on their big day, from shorter gowns to off-white dresses, bringing something different to the table for you to wear down the aisle while helping the Earth at the same time. In some cases, the company even offers bridal looks made out of deadstock fabrics, upscaling material that otherwise would have ended its life in a landfill. The brand has been 100% carbon-neutral since 2015 and uses 100% wind power as well as LED lights and Energy Star-rated appliances in its offices to make sure it really is looking after the Earth from every angle. Reformation also recycles around 75% of its waste and donates any leftover textiles from its clothing creation to people who can find ways to reuse them.
“I’m very motivated when it comes to sustainability, but I’m … very lazy in my personal life. Everything in my house is natural and non-toxic and eco-friendly, but I only do it if it’s easy, you know?” Reformation founder Yael Aflalo explained to The Cut about the brand’s ethos on sustainability. “The onus of real change is on businesses, and consumers can use their purchasing power to make good decisions. With Reformation, we really go out of our way to be insanely sustainable.”
If you’re looking for a wedding gown that won’t have a big impact on the Earth and will also bring some fun and color to your special day, look no further than Anita Dongre. The company specializes in stunning Indian-inspired wedding sets in a vast array of colors, specializing in ornate lehenga sets. Founder Anita Dongre has spoken out herself about the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry, explaining during a presentation, titled “Taking the Pulse of the Fashion Industry,” “It is important to realize that the cost-cutting mentality has contributed to our industry being regarded as one of the most polluting. Cheap labor and cheap raw materials ultimately come with a big price. If the situation that we are in has taught us anything, it is that conscious fashion is the only way ahead.”
The brand provides opportunities to rural and local women in India who might otherwise be faced with poverty. The company creates its garments using natural sunlight, uses LED lamps, and recycles 67% of its water waste (the remainder of which is separated for composting). When it can, the company also makes use of reclaimed wood, and every bit of its electronic waste is recycled. As for the fabrics themselves, they’re sourced from companies creating bio-textiles in renewable ways, while Anita Dongre also created its own plastic waste management program back in 2012.
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British wedding dress designer Luna Bride (which ships worldwide) puts the focus on ethical materials as well as unique designs to bring ethical production to non-traditional wedding outfits. The company sources its fabrics based on them being cruelty-free, organic, and vegan, using materials such as organic peace silk and vegan bamboo. The brand offers plenty of traditional, long white gowns, but we love the way Luna Brides also designs two-piece wedding sets and short dresses for those looking to change things up and buck tradition. The brand also offers a range of different bridesmaid dress styles to suit any taste.
Speaking about the ethically created bridesmaids’ dresses, founder Keely Brightmore explained to English Wedding, “It has taken a year to work out the perfect ways to create dresses that use high-quality production whilst keeping affordability. In a market where many people don’t realize that popular bridesmaid brands continue to use polyester and manufacture in China, this eco-conscious collection is something totally different!”
If you’re looking for a color wedding dress, a short dress, or even a two-piece or wedding skirt for your big day, Larimeloom offers a wide range of all of those as well as a staunch dedication to creating them sustainably by hand. The brand also creates each piece from scratch for the customer’s specific measurements once it’s been ordered, so there’s no bulk creating tons of waste.
The brand takes a slow approach to garment production, unlike many of the fast fashion brands we see today, and implements the idea of minimal waste when it comes to its fabrics, with any remnants being used to create other garments. It also makes use of non-toxic pigments and natural colors when it comes to dying the fabric, plus these garments don’t just get one use. Each garment can also be re-designed and reused to make another outfit that can be worn time and time again.
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Short bridal dress or separates? Indiebride London has both. “Comfort, sustainability, and quality are at the very core of Indiebride London, and the team are passionate about standing by their values and representing today’s women,” explained Indiebride London director Miina to Bridal Buyer. “Our handmade wedding dresses are designed for cool, free-spirited women who don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. They’re for women who want to feel like themselves, but on their wedding day,” she added.
Similarly to Larimeloom, each ensemble is handmade and created specifically for each order to cut down on waste, while it makes a point of not throwing out any excess material left over from the creation process. Instead, the excess is donated to schools, organizations, and facilities that are able to reuse the material to create things like insulation and even carpet underlay. The materials the company uses are selected based on their sustainability from the very beginning, as Indiebride opts for natural fibers such as bamboo, silk, ramie, or lyocell.
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Medusa London is a bridal outfit designer making handmade clothing in London (though the items can be shipped anywhere). Its clothing is made to order, which means there’s less waste. The ensembles are also made from 100% The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic peace silk, which is both cruelty-free and biodegradable. The company also uses natural and non-toxic materials in its garments, while pieces like zippers are created from recycled plastic bottles. You can get your hands on the more traditional dresses from Medusa London, but the brand also offers a twist on the conventional with mini wedding dresses as well as strapless crop tops and skirt sets.
The brand is dedicated to making sure its outfits can be worn again after the wedding, even offering to adapt the garments after the big day to ensure they can be worn by the bride time and time again. As founder Agnese Petraglia explained to Bridal Editor, “Medusa London is a sustainable bridal wear brand that offers modern designs made in an ethical and sustainable way… All our designs are made to either be re-worn after the wedding day or to be transformed and adapted to become a staple piece of a bride’s wardrobe.”
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Sister Organics offers exactly what the name suggests: organic outfits. But don’t expect your traditional big white wedding dress, as Sister Organics specializes in different offerings, such as a blue bridal skirt, a lace bridal cardigan, and a peach silk midi dress. Based in the UK, the brand makes its items to order to ensure any waste is kept to a minimum, and it makes use of organic, eco-friendly, and sustainable fabrics (including organic cotton and silks as well as hemps), which are made locally to cut down on carbon emissions.
Founder and designer Natalie Estlick has plenty of experience creating authentic and sustainable products too. Before founding Sister Organics, she worked for the women’s brand Ciel and also had a job with the clothing recycling charity Traid, which is why she creates her pieces to be re-worn after the wedding day. “My most recent pieces have been bridal separates, which I like to think are easier to wear again for special occasions or easily adapted to be worn as regular clothing,” she explained on Sister Organics’ website.
Rolling In Roses has a stunning collection of different wedding outfits, including bridal pants and jumpsuits (including an all-sequin number). The clothing has all been created using ethically sourced, sustainable, organic, and eco-friendly fabrics, as well as vegan silk alternatives. Once the items have been made and sent out in biodegradable bags, any excess fabric is donated to those who can use it. But the brand’s sustainability practices don’t just stop at its garments. Rolling In Roses knows it’s all about the small changes too, like using paper tape to installing recycled toilet paper in its bathrooms.
Founder of the British indie label Hayley Claire Neil opened up about her efforts to find sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics to create her designs during a 2019 interview with Love My Dress. “I’ve always been adamant that the dresses should be ethically made here in England, and I’ve always run the company as sustainably as possible — our seamstresses are paid more than the national living wage and we recycle all our fabric off-cuts,” she said.
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White wedding dresses aren’t for everyone, so for those brides looking to inject a little color into their big day, Christy Dawn hopes to help you branch out. Its bridal outfits fall under its Regenerative Silk collection, being made to order ethically in Los Angeles from regenerative silk charmeuse. There’s a host of styles you can choose from, too, from floral dresses to blues and pinks.
The company has also implemented a vast sustainability program. “With the planet’s population soaring and the environment getting torn to shreds, I think we all have an obligation to look at what we are doing and ask ourselves, how can I be doing this more sustainably?” Christy Dawn’s namesake founder, Christy Dawn, told The Good Trade. “We try to optimize for longevity, and we don’t limit ‘sustainability’ to solely environmental considerations. We look at the human impact of what we are doing. It would be crazy to think that having our dresses made in factories where people are paid inhumane wages would be sustainable. It’s certainly not sustainable for the people in those jobs.”
In addition to those efforts, Christy Dawn teamed up with Oshadi Farm to create a sustainable garment-making process. In addition to giving financial independence to its farmers, the company says it has replenished the soil in the area and brought down more than 2 million tons of carbon that was previously in the atmosphere.
Ready to wear your bridal pieces again and again to make them more sustainable? Then bridal separates may be the way to go. And Pure Magnolia has plenty of them. The Canadian company offers traditional gowns but puts the sustainability focus on bridal outfits made up of bridal tops and skirts that can be incorporated into the bride’s wardrobe after the wedding day is over. The brand also exercises sustainability in its dyes and recycling practices: “We don’t use synthetic dyes, and we try to reuse or recycle our scraps,” Vianney Cabrera, owner and designer at Pure Magnolia, told Brides. “We try to use natural biodegradable fabrics that are less water-intensive and environmentally destructive — like hemp and organic cotton. We are constantly experimenting with new options, like linens and closed-loop fabrics created from waste,” she added.
The company makes all its outfits to order so that it can avoid the waste caused by fast fashion brands, while each garment is made out of organic cotton from a GOTS Certified Organic Facility in Texas, hemp, and cupro.
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It’s not all about white with the ethical Australian brand Lost in Paris. The company offers unique bridal gowns, including a green off-the-shoulder number with tassels. The Australian company creates its pieces in Sydney and ships worldwide, which is great news for those looking to get their hands on something from the company, which has a rating of “great” from the eco website Good On You. It achieved that thanks to its dedication to using recycled materials and cutting down on things like toxic chemicals and wastewater, which continue to be sources of pollution from fast fashion brands.
Lost in Paris also cut down its carbon footprint by manufacturing locally in order to reduce its carbon footprint. Back in 2018, Lost in Paris debuted its popular zero-waste Edwardian dress, a patchwork gown that was made using excess lace from other dresses created by the company.
Another twist we’re loving when it comes to bridal wear is brides literally wearing the pants. Rita Colson makes that option super easy, featuring an extensive range of quirky bridal wear options, including a white lace crop top and pants combo and a sequin mini dress. Founded by Rita Colson, the company’s pieces can be worn multiple times post-wedding thanks to their versatility, and they’re made out of ethically sourced and sustainable materials. The items are also one of a kind, so unlike fast fashion retailers, the company isn’t creating thousands upon thousands of the same garment that may end up in landfills.
Colson told Love My Dress that much of the brand’s sustainability comes from upcycling and using pieces of old dresses to create something new to support the notion of circular fashion. “Sustainability to me is using vintage within some of my work. I love vintage so I always find ways of using something like a bodice or a trimming from an old dress to make a new one. … I also love to use end of line fabrics which is cost effective and minimises waste,” she shared.
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Bring a different kind of bridal vibe to your big day with looks from Loulette Bride. The company offers more traditional gowns, as well as mini dresses, bridal crop tops, pants, and even jumpsuits, all of which are intended to be genderless and made to be worn by anyone. Loulette Bride is also very dedicated to sustainability. Each item uses recycled poly lining as well as natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and hemp, with anything left over being recycled to make something new. Waste inventory is also eliminated by making each gown to order at a studio in Brooklyn, and the products are then shipped out in a carbon-neutral way in biodegradable bags.
The company’s sustainable efforts don’t stop there, though. For each dress the company sells, it plants a tree in the name of the bride in association with the nonprofit One Tree Planted. It also picks a different charity each season to donate a percentage of its proceeds to.
For brides who really want to customize their look but don’t want to destroy the Earth while doing it, River Elliot Bridal Couture offers a range of wedding dress designs that can be customized to your own tastes. The company has a number of gown ideas on offer that can all be created in different colors, including blush pink, ivory, and gray, and the pieces are created in an eco-friendly way that’s not only sustainable, but also makes use of cruelty-free materials. The brand also offers the possibility of completely bespoke vegan dresses, with gowns made of hemp silks, organic peace satins, and organic cotton knitted lace.
“I find that the bridal industry is super wasteful but no-one wants to talk about it because weddings are supposed to be this one day that you splurge, no holds barred,” Clare Szabo, founder and designer at River Elliot Bridal, admitted to Velvet of her dedication to sustainable bridal fashion. “But there’s so much single-use plastic and waste and if it’s a pyramid structure wedding dresses are right at the top of that waste in terms of their whole supply chain.”
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Spanish brand Cortana provides bridal outfits with the planet in mind. Founder and designer Rosa Esteva explained that sustainability and ethics are at the core of her business, telling Helen Cummins that her outfits are still created in small artisanal workshops instead of being outsourced to unethical sweatshops. “One objective of Cortana is to preserve the beautiful profession of seamstress,” Esteva explained. Among the non-traditional bridal outfits on offer from the company is a cream bridal suit (complete with a belted blazer), wrap-around tops, bridal parachute pants, and several stunning crop top and skirt co-ords.
Esteva has spoken out about her dedication to sustainability multiple times. She told Majorca Daily Bulletin in 2021, “I want to propose a reflection on the future of the Mallorcan textile industry with this and encourage circular production, taking advantage of the richness of the Island in different animal and vegetable fibres.” That’s proven in the production of Cortana’s bridal ensembles, which are produced locally in Majorca using only natural fabrics.