We can’t help but be inspired by our latest sustainability efforts…this Valentine’s Day, we’re serving up chic, unique, and ultra-feminine ideas for reimagining your bridal gown to be worn long after the big day! As part of our work to implement more sustainable practices in the fashion industry, we’re diving into the latest in recycling solutions for wedding gowns, including personalized ways to repurpose your chosen style after your celebration. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about recycling and convertible wedding dresses below!
Recycling, Upcycling, and Downcycling. What’s the Difference?
First things first: What’s all the “cycling” about? Recycling, upcycling and downcycling are three terms related to a circular supply system, with recycling being the umbrella term above the other two.
Upcycling describes the process of taking an existing product and reimagining it into something new while maintaining or increasing its value. Think of taking a bunch of thrifted $2 T-shirts and turning them into a stunning quilt that is now of greater value (thanks to hours of handcrafting) and could be sold for hundreds of dollars. You’ve increased the value of the original product by putting your time and resources into creating something new and improved, with an extended life span.
Upcycling is a creative and environmentally friendly way to reuse materials or products by giving a unique item a new or “upgraded” purpose or value. Unlike traditional recycling — breaking down materials into their raw form to create new products — upcycling aims to enhance the existing item, reimagining its unique qualities as something new and extending its life cycle.
In the bridalsphere, upcycling offers ways to honor the value of a wedding dress by fashionably extending its use in new and creative ways. You might redesign a wedding gown into a cocktail dress or evening ensemble, a new silhouette for another bride, or a quinceanera gown for your niece. Convertible wedding dresses are on trend, and reimagining your gown into a statement piece for your wardrobe is an especially fashionable way to keep the gown true to your personality and love story.
Downcycling is the process of taking a product and recycling its components into new items that don’t have the same value as the original product; for example, recycling damaged bolts of fabric or defective garments into new items like insulation and padding. The material hasn’t gone to waste, but the value of the product has decreased.
The goal of recycling—whether it’s a t-shirt or plastic bottle or cardboard box— is to “reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills or incinerators, conserve natural resources like water, timber and minerals, and reduce the need to mine and process raw materials” states the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The fashion industry has an important role to play in establishing a thriving circular textile supply system. Maggie Sottero is proud to be the first bridal brand to partner with SuperCircle, reimagining how our excess stock is managed and recycled!
Where do upcycling and downcycling meet?
Recycling in the bridal industry refers to the practice of reusing or repurposing materials, clothing, or accessories associated with weddings to reduce waste and support environmental sustainability. This can include various aspects of the bridal ensemble, decorations, and other items related to wedding ceremonies and celebrations.
Ways to Recycle:
- Wedding Dresses: Brides may choose to recycle wedding dresses by either reusing them for multiple events, passing them down through generations, or donating them to organizations that specialize in resale of wedding attire. (They also choose to reimagine them as convertible wedding dresses, as we’ve outlined below.)
- Decor and Accessories: Decorative elements used in weddings, such as centerpieces, tablecloths, and other accessories, can be reused for multiple events or passed on to other couples.
- Invitations and Stationery: Couples can opt for recycled or eco-friendly paper for wedding invitations and stationery. After the event, guests might keep these items as keepsakes or recycle them.
- Floral Arrangements: Flowers used in wedding bouquets and centerpieces can be repurposed by drying them or donating them to hospitals, nursing homes, or other organizations; flowers and greenery may also be composted!
- Jewelry: Brides may choose to wear heirloom jewelry or repurpose family jewelry for their weddings, contributing to a sense of tradition and reducing demand for new items.
- Renting or Resale: Instead of buying new items for the wedding, couples can choose to rent dresses, suits, and decor, or resell items to other couples after the event.
The concept of recycling in the wedding space aligns with the more essential move toward sustainable and eco-friendly practices in various industries. Modern couples are looking for ways to minimize the environmental impact of their weddings by making careful choices about materials and products they purchase or use!
How Can I Convert My Wedding Dress?
Looking for ways to upcycle or recycle your wedding dress? You’ve come to the right place! There are so many things you can do to reuse your wedding dress — including renting it to other brides for their special day, reselling it, donating it to creative reuse shops, or transforming it into a gorgeous new design for future celebrations. (That’s where convertible wedding dresses come in.)
Consider this: We’ve seen a trend going around social media of brides reimagining their mother’s wedding dress and wearing it as a dress for their reception, rehearsal dinner, or engagement party. We think this trend is SO cute and fashionable — the perfect way to honor your mom’s legacy while reducing your purchases of new materials for the wedding.
We also encourage brides to keep the trend going with their own chosen wedding dress…just imagine the ways you can redesign and upcycle after your big day! After all, you spent a lot of money on your gown and feel absolutely beautiful in it, so why not make the most of it? Wear your reimagined dress to cocktail parties, Valentine’s Day dinners, anniversary trips, and any “just because” moment you can think of. Need some inspo for convertible wedding dresses? We have you covered!
Convertible Wedding Dresses: Inspo From Our In-house Shoot
Here is how we’ve reimagined and upcycled real Maggie Sottero wedding dresses to be worn or displayed after your big day!
- Turn your gorgeous chiffon wedding dress into a romantic top. We tried this with Nerida by Sottero and Midgley to create a vintage, feminine, and breezy off-the-shoulder design.
- If you love color for your big day, this makes it super easy to upcycle your gown into a special occasion dress for after the wedding. We transformed Nerida into a two-piece crop style — perfect for summer parties, date nights, and anniversaries.
- You can also create a gorgeous cocktail or black-tie look with a traditional white wedding dress! We used Tuscany Royale by Maggie Sottero to create a chic, sexy “little white dress” number and styled it with a faux fur wrap. Stunning!
We love all the ways to play with fabrics, textures, and silhouettes in your wedding dress. This gives new life and longevity to your once-in-a-lifetime purchase!
How Do I Use The Extra Fabric From My Convertible Wedding Dress?
If you have extra fabric from your reimagined or convertible wedding dresses, accessories, or alterations process, there are tons of ways to make it into something functional and beautiful for everyday use:
- Sew a tote bag
- Make Christmas ornaments for your first year together or give them to family members who couldn’t attend your wedding
- Use it to make special anniversary lingerie or a nightgown
- Turn it into art or shadow boxes
- Make a quilt out of it
- Transform it into scrunchies (very functional!)
- Make a luxurious robe
- Donate the excess fabric to your local creative reuse shop
Maggie’s Sustainability Efforts
We at Maggie Sottero are working to create a more sustainable future for our world, and we want to connect with real brides who appreciate the value of a lower-impact purchase for their big day. Get to know our sustainability efforts below for more details.
“We are rising to meet this critical moment for people and the planet. We’re implementing systems change throughout our organization, embedding sustainability as a core value for every team in support of a more sustainable wedding industry. We are working as quickly as we can to reduce our environmental impact, taking ambitious action in three key areas: Waste Reduction, Resource Consumption and Protecting Biodiversity.” – Patricia DeLaunay, Global Sustainability Director and Designer.
One Tree Planted
Be a partner in change with us to ensure your love story — and our planet — endure. In honor of every Maggie Sottero bride, we will plant a tree with One Tree Planted to support biodiversity protection. Let’s celebrate a more sustainable wedding space with LOVE and love for ALL — including Mother Earth!
We’ve recycled 3000 lbs and counting of plastic shipping waste through our partnership with Rocky Mountain Recycling. 100% of our excess stock is diverted from landfills and into textile recycling programs and donation efforts. 1000+ gowns donated to community organizations and design school students in the U.S. and the U.K. including Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles and Rare School of Fashion and Art, Liverpool
We’re a Blue Sky Visionary Business Partner with Rocky Mountain Power, supporting renewable energy and reducing our annual carbon footprint by an estimated 93,273 lbs of CO2/year. We are investing in the circular textile supply chain with partners like SuperCircle and the Avena Group in the U.K. And we are introducing lower-impact materials into our collections, including recycled-content and yarn-dyed options to reduce our energy and water usage.
Maggie Sottero is supporting efforts to back healthy ecosystems globally and near our Scope 1 facilities, from our partnership with One Tree Planted to our volunteer work with regional conservation groups like International Bird Rescue. We completed six in-the-field conservation projects in 2023, with more to come in 2024!
Now that you’ve got ideas for how to reuse your wedding dress and learned about Maggie’s other sustainability efforts, are you ready to go shopping? Of course! If you want a dress that supports your environmentally friendly mindset, book an appointment at one of our authorized retailers near you!
Sending you positive, beautiful vibes for your best day ever!