Oftentimes, the bridal industry effectively creates "single-use" dresses that will only ever be worn once — but with smaller designers, that isn't the case. Sofia Arribas and Saioa Goitia, who created French bridal company Sophie et Voilà, have been slow fashion sustainable wedding dress designers from the start. And in 2019, they started using all recycled materials to make their beautiful creations.
Green Matters recently caught up with Sofia Arribas and Saioa Goitia via email to discuss what inspired their brand, their favorite part of the design process, and the ins and outs of the bridal industry.
Sofia Arribas and Saioa Goitia created a sustainable brand without realizing it.
Living in the remote Basque region of Spain, Arribas and Goitia weren't quite familiar with fast fashion as a concept. They were accustomed to using high quality materials that would last a long time, for the sake of simultaneously owning quality clothing, and minding the environment. Little did they know the impact this perspective would have on the bridal industry.
"We started a sustainable bridal brand without even being aware of it," they explain. "We live in the Basque country where slow isn’t a movement, but a way of life. When we created Sophie et Voilà, we started to work on slow fashion in the way in which we had lived our whole lives, with the values that the environment taught us."
Finding the perfect recycled materials was their favorite part of the design process.
Finding exactly what you need with recycled fabrics isn't always easy, and Arribas and Goitia said putting together the perfect dress is often a feat.
"Recycled fabrics were introduced to our collection in 2019, when we designed our 2020 campaign. At first, it was very difficult to find the perfect fabric that was high quality and elegant enough for a bride but created out of recycled materials," they tell us. "When we finally figured out the materials that worked with our collection, it was an incredible feeling."
Even outside of using recycled materials, though, they always find pride in using sustainable fabrics.
"Regardless of if we are using recycled fabrics or not," they continued, "we believe that we must try and be sustainable in all practices as waste stems from mass consumption."
And there are so many amazing designs to choose from, it's difficult for them to pick just one.
"It’s too hard to pick a favorite as we love all of our designs, but styles such as the Fedra, Fiona, and Inm are our best-sellers that are created with recycled fabrics!"
Although not all of their designs are on the brand's website, it's worth checking out their online inventory — or inquiring if you're interested in seeing more.
Arribas and Goitia are very involved with each of their clients.
Finding the right wedding dress can be tricky for future brides — and to some, the idea of finding the perfect sustainable wedding dress may be daunting. But Arribas and Goitia say they work closely with their clients, and strive to find exactly what they want.
"Since we work very closely with our clients, we feel that they finally have an understanding of who we are and what it’s like to work with us," Arribas and Goitia explain.
"We are constantly in contact with them so they are very familiar with our brand values, where our Atelier in Bilbao is, and that everything is made in Spain by a group of women in fair working conditions. They are aware that we have the option to use recycled fabric, and understand that Sophie et Voilà is more than just buying a wedding dress, it’s a way of life."
Arribas and Goitia believe the bridal industry is becoming increasingly more sustainable.
Although the mainstream bridal industry is notoriously wasteful, Arribas and Goitia can already see it improving. And with more people hopping aboard the sustainability train, it's bound to get even better.
"The bridal industry is slowly improving sustainability-wise as consumers' values are changing when they are looking for a wedding dress. Brides want to look beautiful on their wedding day, but not at any price," Arribas and Goitia tell us. "We believe that the values behind the garments are becoming increasingly more important as it is a representation of what we stand for."