When I got engaged, finding a beautiful and ethical wedding dress was one of the things I was both most excited for, but also most worried about. Would they cost a fortune? Would I be restricted to only secondhand gowns? Worst of all, would I have to choose between ethics or beauty?
Luckily, I quickly found many options to choose from. Ethical wedding dresses proved to actually be quite within reach, both in budget and style. I found my dream dress (it’s currently in the process of being created!), and now I want to help you find yours! Here are 7 designers and boutiques (and 2 bonus ones for GTA friends) where you can find stunning ethical wedding dresses.
This designer is on every ethical, eco and sustainable wedding dress list out there! As a Fair Trade Federation member, Celia Grace dresses are made by small groups of seamstresses in India and Cambodia, under safe and fair working conditions. They also aim to use as many natural fibre fabrics as possible, and are conscious of the dyes they use. On top of that, they also have a local non-profit partner in Cambodia, Tailored for Education, that donates school uniforms to children in need. So much good in one dress! You can find them in select boutiques across the US and even one in the UK. Or, if there aren’t any near you, they can send you a sample to try on at home before purchasing.
Another popular choice, Pure Magnolia is based in Vancouver (yay, a Canadian brand!). They are committed to using sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, vintage and recycled fabrics. You can order a dress from their collections, bring in a vintage gown to be remade, or request a custom gown and watch it come to life as it’s made in their North Vancouver studio. If you’re not in the Vancouver area, you can find them in boutiques in 4 other provinces across Canada, a few in the US, or order email them for a virtual consultation.
We’re hopping across the pond for this one – Savin is located in London, UK, where all the dresses are handmade. Their dresses are one of the most similar to “regular” wedding gowns in appearance of this list, spanning various styles, shapes and silhouettes. They have many retailers within the UK, one in Canada and a few in the US (though it seems like you can email them for a more complete list of stockists). Though I’ll warn you – they seem to be one of the pricier options on this list.
Though not a wedding-specific designer, they do have a small bridal collection of relaxed dresses that are beautiful enough for your wedding, yet versatile enough to continue to wear after the big day has passed. The dresses are ethically made in LA from only dead-stock fabric – how cool is that?! You can buy the dresses online, and they do ship worldwide.
Handmade in Canada, these ethical wedding gowns strike that fine balance between tradition and modern day weddings. They’re absolutely swoon-worthy, and can be found in many retailers in the US and Canada (and a few places internationally).
Yet another amazing Canadian designer on this list. All of their gowns are handmade with love in their downtown Toronto studio. You can virtually meet all their employees on their website, or visit in person (by appointment). The gowns can also be found in many boutiques across Canada and the US, so there are plenty of opportunities to try on the dresses.
Yes, I consider secondhand clothing within the realm of “ethical”, and definitely within the realm of sustainable. Ethical wedding dresses could also mean previously owned. By buying secondhand, you’re avoiding contributing to ethically questionable brands and also helping out a past bride by taking it off her hands. Still White is an online bridal consignment marketplace, where you can search for dresses near you. Filter your search by size, price, designer, style, location, condition, and other filters that keep you from sifting through things you don’t want.
And a few Toronto-based suggestions…
At this custom bridal boutique, you can design and create a completely unique gown. Hand-pick every fabric, lace, embellishment and final touch yourself if you’d like. Through multiple fittings, you’ll watch as the gown comes together before your very eyes and turns into the dream ethical wedding dress. A custom gown, of course, comes along with a custom price tag, but depending on your budget and what you want, it might not actually be that out of reach.
The Bride’s Project is an entirely volunteer-run secondhand bridal shop in downtown Toronto. They donate all their profits to cancer charities. They’ve raised over $930,000 since they first opened in 2004, and show no sign of slowing down! It’s definitely an affordable option if you’re on a budget, with gowns ranging from $100 – $1500. They have a great selection, and unlike vintage consignment shops, everything there is from the past 3 years. Many of the dresses come along with heartfelt notes and warm wishes from the previous bride. Even if you don’t end up finding your dream wedding dress there, keep it in mind as a place to donate your dress if you’re not planning on repurposing or keeping it.
Whew, what a list! Did you find what you were looking for? If not, don’t worry – these are just a few of my top picks. Take to Ecosia (a search engine that plants trees as you browse!) or check out this article on EcoCult to find even more ethical wedding dresses.