And so we reach the final weekend of our Fairtrade Fortnight Wedding Challenge.
What are we left with? Only the biggest challenge of all: THE DRESS.
But don’t worry, we’re not completely bridecentric. Today we’re doing fair trade wedding gowns, tomorrow we’ll be looking at bridesmaid dresses and groomswear. Hey guys, we saved the best till last!
There has been a ginormous leap in the range of fair trade bridalwear available since the last time we took on this challenge. Our fair trade bridalwear post for 2007 revealed… almost nothing, apart from incomprehension at the idea of a fair trade wedding dress and a couple of brave souls (dressmakers) who were willing to give it a go.
Today, well, the gowns I’m going to show you are gorgeous but if I had a little more stamina and was a little less sleep-deprived (love you my darling children!) I could have shown you even more. Let’s just consider it your bridal homework to add to the list.
This Canadian designer creates ‘bespoke, custom, and one-of-a-kind designer wedding gowns crafted from new and vintage fabrics’.
The new fabrics she uses are fairly traded from developing nations.
See more Katherine Feiel wedding gowns
Caroline Lindenlaub is a French designer based in Strasbourg who is concerned with both the ‘écologique’ and the ‘éthique’ impacts of her work.
The silks that she works with are produced, woven and dyed by a fair trade (‘commerce equitable’) cooperative in Cambodia. Every year, the cooperative is audited by the French organisation, ‘La Plate-Forme Pour Le Commerce Equitable’ (Platform for Fair Trade).
See more Aranel wedding gowns
This innovative site allows you to create your own gown in just a few easy steps, choosing your preferred neckline, skirt length, sash and so on.
Even better, they say: “We now offer both traditionally produced silks and other natural fibers and a growing selection of sustainably produced, fair trade and organic natural fabric options. As we find more fabrics along these lines suitable for dresses we will be adding them to the options, so check back often!”
The fair trade options include a ‘Fair Trade Handwoven Silk Shantung’ and a ‘Fair Trade Handwoven Silk Organza’ – both are handwoven in small villages on very old family looms and the weavers receive a fair trade price for their work.
Find out more about Olivia Luca wedding gowns
These wedding gowns are stylish but simple and are “…locally made of fair trade silks from a family run mill at the foothills of the Himalayas”.
The designer, Lynn Medoff, is based in Portland, Oregon, USA.
See more Lena wedding gowns
We featured Sanyukta’s designs in our winter wedding post, ‘And the bride wore thermals‘ last December, and we’re delighted to have the occasion to share her work again.
She says: “Most of the natural fibres used in the bridal collections are skillfully hand spun and hand loomed by village women in Nepal” and she hopes to “…create opportunities for women in this area of the world, by merging and turning their traditional skills into delicate fabrics and exquisite designs“.
Fabrics are sourced from ethical and fair trade certified manufacturers.
See more of Sanyukta Shrestha’s wedding gowns
Marcie Muehlke had a fun-filled, green wedding in 2010, her “…only disappointment was that I couldn’t find a wedding dress that matched my values. I wanted the white wedding dress of my dreams but I wanted it to bring joy not only to me, but also to the people who made it.
“And so Celia Grace was born, tying together my dedication to international development, empowering women, protecting the environment, and making weddings more meaningful.”
Marcie runs Celia Grace as a social enterprise. She asks, “What if your wedding dress could improve the lives of everyone who touched it? That is the goal for Fair Trade for Celia Grace – a dress that helps rural women keep their girls in school, enables seamstresses to work in safety and with dignity.”
See more Celia Grace wedding gowns
Adele grew up in South Africa where she studied design before moving to Toronto, Canada with her future husband.
In 2007, taking inspiration from her roots in South Africa, she created the HELLO AFRICA bridal collection, working with Zulu artisans, “…to incorporate a humanitarian component that would deepen the meaning of a bride’s special day.”
She says, “Working from home enables these talented women to care for their children while they earn an income of Fair Trade rates, a partnership based on mutual respect, of which I am proud.”
See more from Adele’s Hello Africa collection
Central St Martins graduate, Lucy Tammam has done a tremendous job of moving eco and fair trade fashion out of the ‘worthy’ box and into the one marked ‘must-have’.
She says: “We ensure that all garments and fabrics are produced under fair trade conditions, [...] To achieve this we have spent years sourcing our perfect and unique supply chain, working closely with WFTO certified fair trade units in Bangalore and Kolkatta, whose tailors we have trained extensively to be of the highest standard.”
“…Some of the tailors we have trained have moved on to open their own successful independent businesses, and we also offer them regular work as tailors for some of our creations.”
And the bit I love: “Tammam gowns are true heirloom pieces, made with love and dedication, showcasing the skills and talents of amazing people who deserve, and have been given respect.”
Read the full Tammam Story
Her new boutique in Bloomsbury, London gives brides the chance to see for themselves that a social conscience doesn’t have to mean a style compromise on their big day.
Watch this short video of Tammam’s roving eco couture catwalk at St Pancras Station, London.
See more Tammam wedding gowns
Joanne Mackin made her first bridesmaid dress when she was still in her teens. Now she makes 12-15 dresses a year and you’re advised to book well ahead as her summer months fill up quickly!
Joanne uses organic and fair trade fabrics for her bespoke creations.
See more Wholly Jo’s gowns
I came across this company on the Irish wedding site, One Fab Day and I’m pointing you back to them and their great post on the new Que-Va bridal collection as the Que-Va website is currently under construction so a bit lacking in information.
Caiomhe Keane is the woman behind the brand and One Fab Day say: “Incorporating her passion for sustainability fair trade and love for the environment, Caiomhe uses eco fabrics, organic silks, vintage, antique and reused trims as much as possible in her designs.”
Visit the Que-Va site for the bridal collection (but be aware it is still under construction)
Lori del Genis may have moved from the UK back to the US but her reputation for excellence in sustainable style hasn’t suffered in the slightest.
She uses use certified Organic Fair Trade Cotton fabrics in her bridalwear and even the buttons are hand-carved from fairly-traded tagua nut – this gives craftsmen a livelihood for themselves and their families without having to resort to damaging farming practices in the South American rainforest.
You can even order fabric from Lori to make your own wedding gown.
See more Conscious Elegance wedding gowns
To complete your outfit, why not throw on a fair trade wrap from Dorset company, Wonderful Wraps?
Then pop on a pair of these heels from Olsenhaus (they say: “Olsen Haus produces quality, stylish, cruelty-free vegan shoes and vegan accessories with standards of fair trade and ethical business practices.“).
For a summer wedding, these very pretty fair trade sandals from Laidback London would work well: “We are committed to working out of Africa where we are making a positive social and economic impact on the local communities that we work with.” Read more about Laidback London’s mission.
Or try the Poppy Flat Sandals from Lilly Pilly Silk Boutique – just choose the ribbons you want to go with them (perhaps to match your colour scheme?) made from fair trade silk handwoven in Cambodia.
Anyone we’ve missed? Do let us know. We’ll be back tomorrow to see how the oft-neglected groom can go fair trade as well as your loyal bridesmaids and groomsfolk.
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