More sustainable fashion with donated wedding dresses

FOR many brides-to-be choosing a wedding dress is a big part of organising their wedding day – and an expensive one.

The National Wedding Survey, run by Hitched and You and Your Wedding, found the average cost of a wedding is now £31,974.

It is thought the average wedding dress – which is only worn once – costs £1,313.

But student bridal designer Jenna Martin fed up with the fast fashion element of weddings decided to think outside the box.

Her project has seen her create a sustainable and couture bridal range out of donated wedding dresses.

Jenna, 34, studied a fashion and textiles degree at University Centre Colchester graduating with a first class honours.

As part of her final project, which focused on sustainable fashion, she decided to combine her passion for wedding dress design with a more eco-friendly approach.

The mum-of-two, who is also a step-mum, approached East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), a charity she used to work for.

She asked to see whether it had any old garments she could upcycle.

The EACH shop in Halstead was able to provide more than 30 wedding dresses in a range of colours, designs and materials.

The result was a collection of one-off pieces called the Eternal Gift which have gone on to be showcased in Colchester and London.

Jenna said: “Having worked for EACH, this is a charity I’m passionate about.

“The shop kindly gave me a range of options that I was able to work with by deconstructing, overdying, reassembling and transforming the unwanted garments using different techniques and processes that elevated the existing fabrics.

“The Eternal Gift project and working with EACH was a fantastic challenge and opportunity to juxtapose sustainability with couture.”

Jenna, from Boxford, has seen her collection showcased in a fashion show at Firstsite Colchester and at New Designers, a graduate exhibition at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.

The project came at a time when there is a national move towards sustainable fashion, with consumers more aware of the impact fashion has on the environment.

It is predicted by recycling one tonne of clothing more than half a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions is saved.

Jenna’s work has also seen her nominated for Student Designer of the Year in the Bridal Buyer Awards.

Bridal Buyer is a trade publication and the winners of its prizes will be announced this month, with Jenna up against five other students.

Tina Tate-Lovery, Halstead EACH shop manager, said: “As we aim to be the standout charity shop in the area, we’re always pleased to hear about and, when possible, get involved with good projects supporting members of the nearby community.

“The wedding dresses Jenna used were rather past their time and it’s fantastic to see what she’s been able to do with them. We’re pleased to see they’re being recognised and wish her the best of luck in future.”

Jenna is planning to continue her work in fashion only using fabrics destined for landfill.

She is looking for companies to work with on new projects and collections, and can be contacted on 07805 177032 or at [email protected]

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