Fast fashion has infiltrated the wedding industry. Several online brands have popped up in recent years selling affordable gowns and other wedding attire with fast, free shipping and returns. While this is great news for your budget, it might not be great news if you’re looking to source a sustainable, ethical wedding dress. You may be wondering, where was my wedding dress made?
80% of wedding dresses sold in America are made in China, according to the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association. This percentage may surprise you as it is larger than the percentage of overall clothing imported from China (around 20-30%).
So chances are if you’re buying a wedding dress, it was manufactured in China but how can you tell for sure? And does “made in China” automatically mean it isn’t sustainable or ethical? We did some research on the most popular bridal brands to help you find picks that will make you proud.
Why are wedding dresses made in China?
Wedding dresses are usually made in China and then exported to the Western World because China has the infrastructure required to make large amounts of garments and lower costs associated with manufacturing (including labor costs). Even when you account for shipping and tariffs, it still makes sense for most companies to produce their apparel in China.
|Brand / Designer
|Where is the dress made
|Where is the fabric sourced
|India, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal
|Unknown – Imported
|Unknown – Imported
|United States / Spain
|Spain / China
|Unknown – Imported
|Unknown – Imported
|China, Cambodia and Vietnam
Where are Monique Lhullier’s dresses made?
The designer, Monique Lhullier, makes all of her gowns in the United States. She sources fabric from all over the world but all of her designs, including her ready to wear collections, are manufactured in her factory in Los Angeles, California.
Ready to wear, made to order, what are you talking about? If you haven’t read our primer yet on how dresses are made and how off the rack gowns can save you time and money, check that out first.
Where are Watters dresses made?
For both the main Watters collection and their more affordable lines such as Wtoo, their dresses are “designed” in Texas but are labeled as imported.
They are most likely manufactured in China. They are not clear on their website where they source their fabrics and brides have reported that some dresses are labeled as “made in China”.
Where are Vera Wang’s dresses made?
Vera Wang’s couture dresses are all handmade in the U.S., specifically in her New York City sample room. Vera Wang Bride, her new more affordable collection with Pronovios is manfactured in Barcelona, Spain as well as other parts of Europe and Asia.
Vera Wang Bride debuts as Wang’s partnership with David’s Bridal ends. It will offer plus sizes and petites as well as sustainable options.
Where are Pronovias dresses made?
Pronovias’ high end atelier collection is hand made in Barcelona, Spain. Their other collections vary with many dresses made of polyester and manufactured in China.
Where are David’s Bridal dresses made?
David’s Bridal dresses are made in China and other parts of Asia (about half of their factories are in China).
As an affordable, national retailer David’s Bridal gowns are typically made of polyester and manufactured in China. Even their designer inspired collections, such as Galina Signature, are made in China in order to be made cheaply and quickly for brides across the United States.
Where are BHLDN dresses made?
BHLDN dresses are imported, most likely from China. It may vary depending on the collection but the majority of the dresses are polyester and made in china according to the label on the dress.
Another affordable, national chain, BHLDN gowns are typically made of polyester and manufactured in China. Even their designer collaborations with Watters, Jenny Yoo, and others are made in China in order to be produced affordably and quickly.
Where are Hebeos dresses made?
Hebeos is a Chinese company located in Xiamen, China. All of their dresses are manufactured in China.
Where are Azazie dresses made?
Azazie dresses are designed in Los Angeles, California and manufactured in China, Cambodia and Vietnam.
As with most affordable fasion, Azazie’s dresses are made in China. The company is headquartered in the U.S..
Because Azazie only makes made-to-order gowns, there is less waste than ready to wear apparel. The company has a commendable commitment to sustainability on their website. They have a process in place for limiting waste in the creation, returns, and even a donation program with the Princess Project, a non-profit organization.
How to find a wedding dress that is made in America?
Your best bet to find a wedding gown made in America is to buy a designer, made to order gown. The higher end collections from many major designers are handmade in the U.S.
Part of the selling proposition for designer goods is that they are handmade by artisans. They take longer, use better materials, and often pay their workers a fair wage. This isn’t the case with all designers so be sure to review their process to see if what you’re paying for is actually the quality, hand made nature you would expect from a designer.
Not all designers adhere to the promise of handmade goods. Watters, as you can see in the table above, does not offer the same level of atelier quality as Monique Lhullier and Vera Wang.
How to find an ethical wedding dress?
Generally, designers offer more ethical wedding gown collections. Some ready-to-wear brands are being innovative in this space and committed to providing ethical options.
You can find affordable options that are more ethically made than fast fashion, ready-to-wear equivalents in made to order retailers like Azazie. Affordable but made to order, Azazie wastes less fabric than similar retailers who need to keep large quantities of ready made gowns in stock. These retailers may need to dispose of collections that aren’t selling as well as anticipated, which means wasting large quantities of dresses to the land fill.
What makes a wedding dress ethical?
A wedding dress is more ethical if it prioritizes fair labor practices and sustainability.
Many brides who are interested in finding an ethical wedding dress look for gowns that are made in the United States or EU where labor laws are strict and workers are paid a fair wage. You can review a designer’s practices on their website or in interviews to determine if they are committed to ethical business practices. Monique Lhullier for example hand makes her gowns in downtown LA with a team of designers, pattern makers, sewers, hand finishers and inspectors. She traces each dress with a ticket, so she knows exactly who touched each dress during the process of making it.
How to find a sustainable wedding dress?
The best sustainable wedding dresses are second-hand, pre-owned, or sample sale dresses. Vintage dresses are a great way to give new life to an existing garment and not contribute to the fast fashion industry.
If you need to buy a new dress, your next best choice is a made-to-order and locally-produced gown. International versus local shipping is often the biggest contributor to an item’s sustainability. Again, you’ll have better luck here with designer gowns that are made in the U.S. You can find details on each designers’ website about their sustainability practices.
For more details about planning an eco friendly wedding, check out our article on how to plan one on a budget.
Now that you know where wedding gowns are made, you’re ready to start shopping! Need more information on how many you should try on? Check out our article about how to find the one in less than ten dresses. And if you’re not convinced you even need a dress, we’ve got you with inspiration on the best men’s suits for women.