We all know the basics when it comes to making your wardrobe more sustainable: supporting the right brands, embracing rental fashion and shopping second-hand are all great first steps to being greener. But fashion goes so much further than what’s simply hanging in your wardrobe – it’s what happens before you buy an item or after you’re done with it that’s so vital to saving our planet, which is why learning about a garment’s life cycle is so important.
Despite all of this available information, it can be hard to apply these lessons to other aspects of life. Take the wedding day, for example, which is arguably a very unsustainable concept. You spend a lot of money on a dress you’ll wear just once, not to mention kitting out the rest of the bridal party, plus investing in other bespoke decorations and wedding favours that are most likely single-use.
With more and more brides hopefully tying the knot this year as restrictions start to ease – and many of 2020’s postponed celebrations finally able to take place – how can we be greener on the big day?
The Loop, a London-based luxury bridal wear resale site, works to make the industry more sustainable by promoting circular fashion. The site sells a curated edit of covetable pre-loved designs for the modern bride, boasting classic bridal brands like Jenny Packham and Ghost alongside more contemporary labels like Stand Studio and Khaite. We spoke to The Loop founders, friends Grace Richmond and Abi Gadsby, to learn more about their business and staying green during wedding season.
How did you come up with the concept for The Loop?
Grace Richmond: “We have been friends for years and share a love for style, clothes and shopping for them in a thrifty, responsible and conscious manner. After both feeling the repercussions of Covid-19 last summer we decided to set up an Instagram account, Grace & Gadsby, which set out to broadly fine-tune our ideas of championing preloved luxury – from the bride, to bridesmaids, wedding guests and wardrobe consulting.
“Lots of brides wanted help either helping find a last-minute registry outfit or just help with where to look for a big-day dress. We found brides were keen to explore the second-hand route, but there was something stopping them. More often than not, people don’t know where to start looking for pre-owned bridal wear, nor do they have the energy and time to search.”
Abi Gadsby: “We both felt there needed to be more of a bridge between designer ready-to-wear and bridal wear. Our edit of dresses features some modern covetable pieces, with preloved styles and treasures sourced from cult brands like Cult Gaia, Brandon Maxwell and Khaite.”
What do you think your service changes about the bridal industry?
AG: “There is huge space to connect the dots between designer ready-to-wear and traditional bridal wear, especially when shopping for it online. Then we also want to add in the sustainability factor, too – championing circularity, transparency and preloved luxury.
“While small, with a small selection of items at the moment, we hope to maintain a level of assurance as we grow in order to cater to all. We want to make it an inspiring and covetable place to shop bridal wear and make shopping for preloved wedding dresses more commonplace, less risky and a little less archaic. More and more brides are looking for something they can wear time and time again, or dye pink or cut the hem off and make into a mini-dress, so we want to offer something beyond the traditional meringue dress.”
What do you wish people knew more about when it comes to sustainability and the bridal industry?
GR: “Weddings are arguably one of the biggest and most monumental days of people’s lives; we totally understand why they want it to be extravagant and a day to remember. As with most events, it typically is all driven towards happening for one occasion only, which means putting a lot of single-use materials in creating bespoke and personalised decorations, table settings, flowers, outfits – only for them never to be used again.
“It is definitely not an issue isolated to weddings alone; so many of our day-to-day events are wasteful. It’s about placing more thought on what goes into creating a wedding – seasonal food menus, seasonal flowers, less plastic, recycling the wine bottles. You can be tasteful, sustainable and have an amazing wedding.”
AG: “From a dressing perspective, this is why we set up The Loop. Brides can be considerate of where they buy their outfit from or even just resell it on to us. Put your bridesmaids in something they will wear again, rent their dresses or buy them secondhand. We encourage the groom and groomsmen to do the same.”
You have such a lovely mix of brands, why was it important for you to cater to so many different audiences and tastes?
GR: “Women are now searching for outfits to meet a variety of occasions; weddings are lasting longer and becoming two- or three-day events. Now, continually changing regulations, a precarious economy and a gentle move away from tradition means many women are instinctively seeking something that feels practical, affordable, and responsible.
“With this in mind, we set out with the idea of covering three main types of outfit style – the big-day dress, the party dress and the registry office outfit. These were the three areas where brides came to us for outfit ideas. We trust our eye for style, we are aware of what the in-demand pieces might be, what the covetable brands are, and we have a mix of styles – long, short, mini, trousers. We’ve made sure we get good quality pieces that are fun, modern and elegant.”
Do you think that more brides will step away from tradition in favour of more contemporary dresses post-pandemic?
AG: “Certainly, we are seeing more brides wanting a contemporary dress for their smaller weddings. We do think there will be a change in mindset and perhaps the big white traditional wedding will become more of a novelty. That said, post-pandemic we will appreciate larger scale events more than ever.”
Why do you think some brides don’t think to shop vintage or pre-loved dresses?
GR: “Firstly, we think it boils down to the experience and knowing where to start; it’s a much harder place to begin from than when buying new. That said, there’s something incredibly special about purchasing a brand-new dress for your wedding day. It is the one time you can go for it, so why not let it be new? Why not go and shop around from all the boutiques?”
AG: “For us, we want to present another space within the bridal arena to offer something a little different and halve the risk for brides when shopping pre-loved. We, as stylists, both feel entirely confident when sifting through hundreds of bad quality photos on resale sites where the items are creased, lifeless and limp, that we can find the beauty. We saw this beautiful Valentino heart-embroidered dress, and could just imagine it with a floor-length veil for some added drama, but had you seen the seller’s photo of it you would have not looked twice.”
GR: “Sourcing a dress for a wedding day is an incredibly exciting process and looking at a secondhand option is fast becoming part of it. No less new and no less special, sourcing a pre-owned piece is simply an opportunity to consciously extend an item’s story. As an increasing number of women search for outfits to meet a variety of occasions, we feel traditional bridal wear can sometimes feel outdated or inflexible.”
What does The Loop do to ensure it is as sustainable a business as possible?
AG: “Our mission at The Loop is to be thoughtful, mindful and responsible at all levels of operation, from our packaging to our shipping to our dry cleaning. We are here to grow and nurture these well-intentioned concepts, and importantly share them with the community we are trying to create, too.
“We are working on having a diverse range of sizing on our site, but as we are a small team with only a limited number of hands and hours to source all these special dresses, shoot them, and put them on the site, we may be falling short on providing a range of sizes for all at all times. We aim to cater to everyone and anyone; we want to encourage everyone to get involved in the pre-loved luxury bridal wear business.”
What’s next for The Loop?
GR: “More drops of luxury designer pre-loved or vintage pieces that can pass as bridal wear, too. There is this insane Chanel number we have our eye on. We also have a lot of pre-loved shoes that we can’t wait to get started with. Bridesmaid dresses, wedding guest looks and occasion wear are also on the list too so watch this space.”
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