Pearl Button ethically made sustainable wedding dresses | Meet the Experts

Pearl Button ethically made sustainable wedding dresses | Meet the Experts
March 26, 2019 Sandra Henri
What does it mean to choose a sustainable and ethically made wedding dress?
Welcome to our new series, where we learn from the Eco-Ethical experts within the wedding industry. What are they doing differently?
We chat with Dinah Mitchell, of Pearl Button Bridal, on the South Coast of NSW, ethically accredited with ECA, and a seasoned ethical fashion advocate. Together with a clever bunch of South Coast peeps, we also bring you some eye candy in the form of a styled shoot with Shaiyana of The Modest Bride.
“Be true to your spirited self”- Pearl Button Bridal – Quietly creating a wedding dress revolution with beautiful dresses that are ethically and sustainably made.
Comfort is at the core of your wedding designs…tell us more about your approach in creating bespoke wedding dresses?

Well I think that comfort comes from a few different factors the most important starting point is the design. When you feel confident that the design reflects who you are that is the first step to being comfortable. Of course then comes the important structural elements such as what support you need (if any) underneath that garment. And natural fibres of course provide comfort when used correctly.



What does it mean to be an Ethical Bridal Designer? How is it different to the mainstream?

An ethical designer cares and has input into every stage of the making process. I can control what happens here in the studio and my silk supplier does their bit at that end. I would like to have more control over my fabrics but I do the best I can at this stage. I’m not saying it’s perfect but I’m working on it. Historically wedding dresses were passed down through the generations and repurposed. I’d like to think that my beautiful dresses will be treasured and reused in the same way. And when they finally come to the end of their use as a wedding dress they might find life in another item of use. And ultimately they are biodegradable which polyester is not!



Which fabrics do you use, and how do you ensure an ethical supply chain?

I use silk because I believe in natural fibres for their beauty, quality and sustainability. Of course every fibre has its issues which can include human slavery, land use, water use, pesticides, animal cruelty to name a few. I’m willing to go down the rabbit hole when anyone is interested. Silk has a long tradition, it is a very well managed fibre. It has been around for thousands of years. My supplier in Sydney works hard to have an ethical supply chain. I’m always up for doing further research into this area and I’m always looking at ways to improve.



What questions should brides ask when finding a wedding dress?

Where their dress is made #whomademyclothes and from what fibres? Show the same support for ethical and sustainable brands as you do for organic and slow food.


What’s your process in designing a bespoke gown?

When I sit down with my brides I learn who they are, their likes and dislikes. How they see their wedding is important. The dress ideas come from that and develop to the sketch stage. The next step is to review all the sketches. There’s a lot of discarding and reevaluating at this stage. When a final design is decided on I make a pattern from my bride’s measurements and then a toile (a mock up in calico) which gives the sketch reality. From there it is a matter of refining and fitting until the dress is finished. Of course there is a lot of work that goes into the dress between that and the finished stage. I do lots of handsewing like hand basting and rolled hems, and hand appliqué of lace –  all lovely couture techniques!

Tell us about working with Shaiyana of the Modest Bride?

Shaiyana is a wonderful young woman, fiercely intelligent and bursting with energy. She radiates natural beauty and kindness. She is studying to be an English teacher and already has a degree and background in accounting. I think she’s going to be a tour-de-force in education, lucky students.

We designed a dress together that was in keeping with her values as a muslim woman. I was inspired by designers of the 1940’s and their use of the magyar sleeve and draping around the arm and bodice. Our dress made of silk and satin piping has a high neck and long sleeves embellished with pearl buttons (of course) and is fitted around the waist area. I created a matching head scarf for the dress. It was a lovely process. I love exploring and celebrating our multicultural society. There is a story in everybody’s background and weddings are a great way to celebrate this. I also got to hang out with her lovely children and we have become friends which is a great thing.



What can brides expect when they see you in your South Coast studio?

They can see what a working studio looks like, where everything happens and have a cup of tea with me from my vintage china tea cups.

Putting it out there…what’s a new approach you would love to see in weddings of the future?

I want to see design for re-use as a plus for weddings – this doesn’t meant that you can’t have a fantasy dress it just means that you should think about its life after the wedding. That could mean long term storage for future generations or adapting for wearing afterwards or on-selling to another bride.



Continue on for the full set of images, created in collaboration with:

Photographer – Sandra Henri Photography
Flowers – Folklore and Co
Metal straws – Turtley Strawesome
Invitations – Letterbox Press


Want to learn more about planning a wedding that cares for people and the planet? Then the Mindfully Wed E-guide is your friend…everything you wanted to know in one place. You can grab your copy HERE:



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