By Daniela Degrassi
The UK Bridal Market continues to pleasantly surprise us with more and more designers turning their attention to sustainability. We recently connected with Miina of Indiebride London, a label of Bohemian, vintage-inspired wedding dresses and accessories designed and handmade in London by dedicated artisans.
Miina is fully committed to sustainability at her Indiebride London’s showroom, from a careful selection of fabric materials, to the recycling of material off-cuts, that are used to make and embellish their sashes, veils and headpieces. Indiebrides also donates all the unused off-cuts to students or organizations to be used in their own projects. Recently, Miina decided to replace Indiebride’s silk lining gowns with 100% recycled rPet satin made from plastic rescued from our Oceans. She says rPet satin feels divine against the skin, drapes beautifully and has a nice weight to it.
Don’t you love that more eco-friendly practices in bridal-wear are making more and more designers vegan friendly? I talked with Miina more in depth about her journey as a sustainable independent bridal designer.
Miina at Indiebride London showroom – Photo by Laura Viktualia
What inspired you to start designing wedding dresses?
For me, it wasn’t a single decision to start designing wedding dresses. It was more of a long road filled with decisions that took me here. I’m originally from Finland. I studied fashion design in Finland and did an internship in London for a sustainable clothing brand Minna, which was founded by Finnish woman. Once I graduated in 2014, I moved to London to work for this company as a seamstress. Years went by and I ended up being not only a seamstress but a studio/production manager. As the owner of the brand lived outside London, I was the one who ran the business. Early 2019 the owner mentioned that she was considering giving up the business and in February 2019 I took it over. I never imagined or dreamt being a London based wedding dress designer running my own business but here I am! I’m so happy designing wedding dresses! I had a sustainable ready-to-wear brand on the side, under my own name for a while, but I gave it up when I acquired Indiebride London. Running the ready-to-wear brand I experienced how fast pace the fashion world is and how hard it is to compete to make a living when you have sustainable values. In wedding dresses, I found the perfect balance in making a difference by offering sustainable alternatives to people who appreciate handmade garments.
Due to your sustainable business model, do you customize dresses for all your brides?
I usually design one collection of dresses a year. The brides can choose a standard style from the collection or they can alter the styles available to their liking. I can change a round neckline into a V-neckline, add sleeves or take sleeves out, I can combine a top from one dress to a skirt from another one just to give a few examples. I also make bespoke dresses from scratch. Bespoke dresses are designed together with the bride and are unique.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a sustainable small business owner in the giant bridal-wear market?
The biggest challenge is definitely pricing of the dresses. I understand that not everyone can afford a £1600 dress and they have to or want to choose something less expensive. I am able to do only so many dresses a year and the revenue from those dresses have to cover my expenses and my salary plus the marketing and developing the brand. This means that even if I wanted to sell dresses at a lower price so that they would suit the wallets of more brides’, I can’t. If I produced our dresses in a factory in bulk, that would be possible but the biggest and most important aspect of the Indiebride ethos is that all our dresses are handmade to order so that there is no dead-stock and that every bride gets a dress that is made specifically because they wanted to wear it.
What challenges have you been facing during the pandemic? Have you been finding new ways to serve your brides?
The wedding sector in the UK has suffered a massive hit because of the pandemic. Here in the UK weddings have been allowed for only 15 people for months now which have led to the loss of about 90% of the sales this year. I have kept in touch with my brides throughout the pandemic and the postponements they’ve had to make and it’s been devastating to hear the couples struggle as well as all the wedding supplier’s. I have been offering Zoom appointments to any bride who is interested in our dresses or have any enquiries or just needs support. During a Zoom appointment the brides can ask about whatever they want and I can show them the dresses they are most interested in, showing details and telling more about the style and what kind of changes they can make if they wish to. I love the close relationship I have with all my brides and it can start with a Zoom call. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to schedule a Zoom call!
Photo Courtesy of Indiebride London Instagram
Since starting The Kind Bride, we’ve mostly witnessed sustainable bridal brands and designers to be based in the UK. Do you think the Fashion Revolution movement has influenced the wedding fashion industry in England the most?
I have definitely noticed the impact of the fashion revolution in the UK and also in my homeland Finland. I don’t know why but the movement has made a bigger difference in Europe than in the US. Maybe it’s easier to run a small business here in the UK than in the US where there are a few huge bridal brands that cover a vast part of the whole industry.
Any trends you foresee (or dream of) happening in bridal-wear in the coming years?
I would love to see the appreciation of handmade wedding gowns grow more and more. Yes, it is nice to find a bargain and save money for traveling for example but the process of trying on dresses in a beautiful showroom, choosing your dress and having the person who helped you choose it make it just for you is so special and a memory that stays with you forever. It’s almost like a ritual, having the most important women (and sometimes men) with you choosing the most important dress of your life and bringing them with you to all the fittings. Making dresses to brides from scratch is such a lovely job to have.
Photo by Weddings by Cassiel
An incurable enthusiast and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California. Currently splitting her time between SF Bay Area and her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.