Sustainable fashion was not in my mind when I was starting out as a bridal designer. With the popularity of ‘Blue Planet’ the documentary narrated by David Attenborough, magazines, blogs and television programmes are picking up on the trend. The Eco-age is now and since then more topics have been emerging regarding the sustainability of our planet and it will be the pinnacle of discussion for quite some time.
I was shocked to know that fast fashion was the second dirtiest industry in the world, cotton uses huge amount of water for production, and mainly produced in countries where water is scarce, chemicals and pesticides leak into fresh running water making the people who live near this natural source have health and skin problems. Silk, a huge textile fabric used in the bridal industry, 6,600 silkworms are killed to make just 1 kilogram of silk, there are reports of child exploitation in certain countries, children as young as 5 work in the factories where silk thread is produced. The list goes on, so what can we do to help?
Stop making large amount of clothes that contribute to fast fashion. Begin to make small quality pieces.
Buy organic with the GOTS trademark, this still has a negative impact because of the large amounts of water needed however at least the harmful chemicals aren’t being used.
Option to design new garments using recycled clothes.
Stop making clothes out of polyester as the micro plastics are released into water when the clothes are washed.
Try to use sustainable fabrics when making clothes. Hemp, Linen and Bamboo silk.
Try to get clothes produced closer to home.
Buy less and buy into quality.
Buy recycled clothes, some charity shops have amazing second hand goodies.
If you buy a wedding dress, depending on your budget maybe re-vamp a second-hand one, or go to independent stores or designers who custom make garments or they only produce a small collection yearly.
At the beginning of the year I was just about to do a new collection, but then I thought about the vast amount of fabric I would need, one dress can be made up of six metres of fabric and that doesn’t include the lining! In London alone there are over 100 boutiques, showcasing a range of dresses so imagine how much fabric is needed for these dresses. I have put together my collection on paper ‘Rainforests of the Sea” which includes seven bridal illustrations, fabric samples, embroidery and dip dye to support the look. Plus, only one or two dresses from the collection will be made.
I know there are issues having your dresses on paper rather than real life and I know many brides want to try them on and see what they look like before they purchase. However, these problems can easily be resolved. Find the right designer, one that represents your style, someone who could be your friend where strong communication is important. Also, don’t forget brides there is a toile made for the first fitting, so you get a glimpse of what the shape and the style will start to look like and at this opportunity you can make any alterations! This, I believe is the key to a successful outcome and a sustainable future.
Here is an example of one of my bridal dresses "Great Star" from the collection, which is supported with fabrics and embroidery samples.
Here is an example of one of my sketches, the 'Lyra' bridal separate. It is then design and made by a small production company in London. (Requests were without the dip dye.)
In my collection names of the dresses are taken from different varieties of coral. I have embellished with little crochet starfish, beads to represent seaweed and ripples of the waves. The fabrics that I chose for a few of my illustrations are made from bamboo silk and lined with organic cotton that have the GOTS trademark, to express that brides have a choice to buy ethical bridal wear. Brides get to see my fabric packs and how they feel at my consultations.
Jessica Turner Designs Fabric Packs:
Left: Organic Range and Bamboo samples.
Middle: Silk knit, Chiffon and Dip dye.
Right: Silk Knit, Crinkle Silk, Silks
The "Rainforest's of the Sea' is about this beautiful eco-system, coral reefs that are slowly being destroyed. The colour scheme is mustard, dusty pink, beige and ivories with the dip dye colours of coral and grey representing the dying of the reefs. I know it is a little depressing, however I want to express my concern in this matter as the more we destroy it the more we are killing our own existence. Did you know that plastic (also found in polyester and nylon which could be in the lining of a dress) found roaming our seas can carry deadly bacteria which eventually kills the reefs? This was seen on the BBC “Drowning in Plastic” with Liz Bonnin. If we start to look at labels, in our clothes, what they are made out of, where they are made, then maybe we will think twice before purchasing and start thinking outside the box when buying clothes.
I pride in minimising the impact of production and fabric usage, designing and creating in this manner is an innovative way to help be sustainable, however I can’t do it alone, I need consumers to take this on board and begin to make smart choices when purchasing a wedding dress and consider ethical fabrics. It can work and we must remember Textiles is a high environmental footprint and it is responsible for a huge amount of waste, so we must try as much as we can to save our planet, even if they are small, tiny steps.
I am also proud to be on The Little Book, Love My Dress directory. Please take a look.
Bethany and James Photography
Kate Hennessey Photography
Photography @katehennessyphotography | Coordination, planning and styling @yourweddingyourway | Venue @kingsdownrectory | Cake @cakemebysurprise | Stationery @sharonestevensdesign | Tablecloths, ribbons, napkins and runners @silkandpurl | Hair stylist @leeanngrevatt | Make up artist @glamparsons | Models @charlotte2980 @hannahtwigger @iamtherealsouheil1 | Videography - katietulip.com | Bridal dress @jessicaturnerdesigns | Bridal hair vine @pswithlov3 | Props and furniture @locatetocreate | Styling on the day @flutterbeemee