A Beginners Guide to Sustainable Dresses

A Beginners Guide to Sustainable Dresses

TLDR; Sustainable dresses are a great way to look good and do good for the planet. Sustainable dresses are made from sustainably sourced materials and produced with ethical labor practicies, which means they’re better for the environment, the people, who make them, and you. Sustainable dresses are growing in popularity so it’s easier than even to find dresses that fit your unique style and your budget, but you still need to look out for greenwashing and a lack of transparency (or no transparency) around the labor practices used to make your new dress. This article will help you shop for sustainable dresses that are both stylish sustainably made, and will help you identify an ethically made and sustainably sourced dress from one that is not.


Sustainable Dresses: What They Are and Where to Find Them

 

It has become common knowledge that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. But there is a growing movement that is upending traditional fashion practices that are unsustainable and unethical. The Sustainable Fashion Movement, also known as the Conscious Fashion Movement is centered around creating clothing that is better for both the environment, the planet, and the people who make the garments you wear by using ethical and fair labor practices in the creation of garments, the sustainable sourcing of raw materials, and the intentional act of creating as little waste or harm to the environment as possible. Conscious Fashion also looks at the context in which a garment is produced and the longevity of the garment and how many times it can be worn before it wears out. As these movements have grown it has become easier to find sustainable clothing, including dresses, but it has become harder to discern if the claims about sustainable clothing, and dresses are indeed true and if sustainable materials used are sustainable. Why? Because sustainable clothing is a lucrative industry with high consumer demand and greenwashing has become a common practice by many brands who want to attract conscious customers.


What is Greenwashing?


Greenwashing is a form of marketing that deceives consumers into believing that a company's products or services are more environmentally friendly than they actually are. It is often used by companies to boost their sales and reputation at the expense of the environment.

Greenwashing can take many forms, such as:

  • Making misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service. For example, a company might claim that their product is "eco-friendly" or "sustainable" when it is not. This is done to increase sales and revenues of the company.
  • Using vague or ambiguous language about the environmental impact of a product or service. For example, a company might say that their product is "made with recycled materials" without specifying how much of the product is actually recycled.
  • Hiding the environmental impact of a product or service. For example, a company might not disclose the amount of water or energy used to produce their product.
Jakarta Long Linen Dress
Jakarta Long Linen Dress

What is a sustainable dress?

 

Sustainable dresses are dresses that are made from sustainable materials, produced in sustainable ways that minimize environmental impacts and are made with ethical manufacturing processes. Common sustainable dress fabrics include organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, and recycled fabrics. Common sustainable production methods include fair trade, zero waste, and upcycling.


Why should you choose sustainable dresses?


There are many reasons to choose sustainable dresses.

First, they’re better for the environment than traditional dresses. The sustainable materials used in sustainable dresses are grown and processed in ways that minimize their environmental impact. Sustainable production methods also reduce waste and pollution.


Sustainable dresses are also better for your health. Organic cotton, a common fabric used in sustainable dresses, is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. This means that it is much less likely to irritate your skin.


Third, sustainable dresses often look just as good as non-sustainable dresses. There are many stylish sustainable dress brands available, so you can find dresses that fit your taste and budget.

Mari Midi Dress
Mari Midi Dress
Sokha Hemp Midi Dress
Sokha Hemp Midi Dress

How to find sustainable dresses?

 

There are a few things you can do when looking for a sustainable dress.


  • Do your research: Before you buy a dress, take some time to research the product and the brand. Look for brands that are transparent about their practices and that use sustainable materials in their garments.
  • Look for certifications: There are several certifications that can help you identify a sustainable dress. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is one of these standards and means the textile product has been produced according to the Global Organic Textile Standard, which is a set of rigorous guidelines for the production of organic textiles.
  • Buy from ethical and sustainable brands: Many ethical brands sell sustainable dresses. These brands are committed to fair trade, workers' rights, and environmental protection. Every sustainable dress on Made Trade is independently verified and vetted for sustainable material sourcing and fair and ethical labor practices.

Popular fabrics used in sustainable dresses

Organic cotton

 

Organic cotton is a soft, sustainable material that promotes healthy skin because it is exceptionally breathable — making it perfect for sustainable dresses. Organic Cotton, unlike conventional cotton, is grown without the use of harmful pesticides or herbicides.

Cruise Midi Dress
Cruise Midi Dress

Linen

 

Linen is a natural fiber that is made from the flax plant. It is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, and it requires far less water to produce than other fabrics like conventional cotton. Linen is also a strong and durable fabric that can last for many years when used for a dress. Linen is a great fabric for sustainable dresses because it is breathable and lightweight, which makes it a perfect fabric for hot weather.

Lapland Mid-Length Linen Dress
Lapland Mid-Length Linen Dress

Hemp

 

Hemp is a strong, durable fabric that is made from the hemp plant. It is a sustainable alternative to cotton and is perfect for dresses that you want to last. Hemp is a natural fiber that is made from the hemp plant. It is a sustainable fiber because it can be grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, and it requires less water to produce than other fabrics such as cotton. Hemp is also a strong and durable fabric that can last for many years.

Vanna Hemp Dress
Vanna Hemp Dress

Bamboo fabric

 

Bamboo fabric is a sustainable fabric made from the bamboo plant. It’s soft, breathable, and moisture wicking making it a very comfortable fabric to wear – especially in warm weather. Bamboo fabric is also naturally antibacterial and antifungal, making it a good choice for people with sensitive skin. The bamboo plant is a sustainable raw material because it’s a fast-growing plant that requires less water and land to grow than traditional cotton. It’s also a carbon-neutral crop, meaning that bamboo does not release any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as it grows.

Mika T-shirt Dress
Mika T-shirt Dress

Recycled fabrics

 

Recycled fabrics are made from discarded materials, such as plastic bottles, which are processed into new fibers and woven into new sustainable fabrics. Recycled fabrics are a sustainable choice because they reduce waste and help to conserve resources. In addition to being environmentally friendly, recycled fabrics also have several benefits for the wearer. They are often soft and comfortable, and they can be made to look and feel just like traditional fabrics. Recycled fabrics can also be more durable than some traditional fabrics, and they can last for many years. However, it is important to note that recycled polyester fabrics can often be less breathable than natural fibers. So, if you’re someone who sweats a lot or you’re looking to wear a recycled polyester blend dress in the summertime, you may want to wait until the weather cools off to slip it on and wear it out. If you are looking for a sustainable and stylish way to dress, recycled fabrics are a great option.

Where can I find sustainable dresses?


If you’re looking for a sustainable dress made with verified fair and ethical labor that is made from sustainably sourced materials the best place to shop for sustainable dresses is on Made Trade. We carefully curate every dress we carry for equity, sustainability, and transparency. Our stylists hand-select every dress in our sustainable dresses collection so you can shop with confidence that your purchase is positively impacting both people and the planet.

 

Check out our favorite ethical and sustainable dresses:

 

Effie Modal Dress
Effie Modal Dress
Olivia Linen Wrap Dress
Olivia Linen Wrap Dress
Soft Stretch Eucalyptus Short Sleeve Dress
Soft Stretch Eucalyptus Short Sleeve Dress
Artsy Traveler Eucalyptus Spice Tencel Midi Dress
Artsy Traveler Eucalyptus Spice Tencel Midi Dress

Conclusion

 

Sustainable dresses are truly a great way to look good and do good for the planet. Due to their increased popularity, there are now many types of sustainable dresses available and made from many different types of sustainable fabrics. But even though it’s now easier than ever to find sustainable dresses you still need to be diligent and ensure that the brand you’re buying your sustainable dress from isn’t greenwashing and is displaying the information about the dress that makes it sustainable. Make sure you can easily discover where a dress is made, what it is made with, and that there is transparency into the makers of your dress and that the company or brand you’re buying from is providing transparency into the labor practices of the dressmakers. With a little research, and asking the right questions, you can find sustainable dresses that fit your unique style.

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