Should your special occasion have to cost the earth? These designers are creating breathtaking, innovative wedding dresses that are environmentally friendly too.
For the most part, fashion is a notoriously wasteful, extravagant industry. Fast fashion's carbon footprint is undoubtedly a hefty, cumbersome one, and some experts have claimed that the business is the second biggest polluter after oil.
Similarly, weddings and special occasions, and all the trimmings that come with creating a special day—from the dress you'll wear once to the way its beading and lace was sourced, sewn, and sold—are rarely dreamt up with a mind for their broader environmental impact.
Now more than ever, many fashion designers are leading by example, ceasing to cut corners, and choosing sustainable, eco-friendly supply chains, practices, and textiles to craft new collections of beautiful, innovative gowns. These creations tend to favour design and uniqueness over perfection, and see intrigue and interest in cuts and colours that haven't wreaked havoc as they were pieced together.
Whether it’s your wedding day or a black tie ball, you can make an entrance without foregoing your fashion conscience. Here are two of our favourite sustainable couturiers.
Winner of season five of Project Runway, Californian designer Leanne Marshall launched her signature bridal collection in 2011. Conscious of the amount of waste involved in manufacturing bridal wear, and the amount of textile waste in New York City alone where her studio is based, she began to think more creatively about how to make better use of fabric scraps.
Her ethereal, feminine dresses are all made using only high-quality sustainable textiles, and now too, she makes use of left-over fabric, either embellishing other designs or crafting entire gowns from bridal scraps. The results are stunning—and through her innovative approach to design—her signature elegant aesthetic isn't compromised.
From our own shores is Melbourne-based fashion designer Lenka Harvey. Her label, Lenka Couture has made headlines as Australia's first ethically accredited bridal designer.
"Having worked in the industry for many years and seeing and experiencing the unethical and unsustainable way the industry operated, I inherently needed to do something proactive to help reduce the levels of waste being created," Lenka explains.
"I've worked in the bridal fashion industry for 16 years and when it came time to start my own business I wanted to create something that could help create the change that this industry needs and treats both people and planet with respect, creating positive impact."
Using recycled, vintage, sustainably sourced, and only natural materials, Lenka's mandate is sustainability and she aims for zero waste with every creation, leaving the environment as unharmed as possible.
"When I create my gowns I take a different approach to the traditional process taken by other brands. I start with a basic design idea, but the design develops together in conjunction with the pattern making process. This way the pattern making process informs the design and vice versa, allowing me to design out fabric waste and create patterns that have little or no fabric waste."
Similarly to Leanne Marshall, Lenka makes use of her fabric scraps - but rather than whole gowns, Lenka creates lingerie. "I also naturally dye my own fabrics in a zero waste process using plant waste from my local cafe such as onion skins and avocado pits, where the dye bath ends up in the garden and plants end up in compost."
For everyday eco- friendly get-up, see our favourite sustainable fashion designers here.