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If you’re excited because pandemic restrictions are lifting and are already planning what you’re going to wear for your end of work year funcion, Christmas lunch and New Year’s celebrations you’ve landed on the right page. While there’s plenty of choices on offer for organic tank dresses and t-shirt dresses, sassy ethical and sustainable party frocks such as show-stopping mini dresses, LBDs or sexy backless numbers are a little harder to find which explains this curated list of conscious brands producing some of the most beautiful party dresses. All the brands featured below ensure their garments aren’t made in a sweatshop and workers are paid fairly, and many – not all thought – are working towards ensuring their fashion businesses have a lighter impact on the planet.
It should be noted that there are many places to shop second-hand party dresses online such as thredUp, Vestiaire Collective and Depop and there are also many fashion rental sites where you can hire party frocks so we encourage you to browse there first.
Anyway, if you’re short on time, have a particular style in mind or have exhausted second-hand options and come up empty-handed, then here are the conscious brands to shop for ethically-made and sustainable party dresses:
The first label that comes to mind when we think of eco party dresses is Reformation. This women’s sustainable fashion brand has put the sexy in sustainability and they produce a huge range of styles in endless prints and colours. Browse the neatly-organised Reformation website and here’s what you’ll find: backless dresses, mini dresses, off-shoulder dress styles, body-hugging dresses, printed summer dresses, spaghetti strap dresses and much more. All dresses are sustainably made in Los Angeles using eco-friendly fabrics such as recycled materials, TENCEL™ Lyocell, remnant fabrics, organic cotton and linen.
For elegant ethically-made party dresses, Australian fashion designer Bianca Spender has the goods. The daughter of renowned Australian designer Carla Zampatti, luxury design was in her blood though she is more vocal about her sustainability values. Many of her designs feature natural fibres and eco-friendly materials such as remnant fabrics and all are made in Australia with Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) accreditation.
For almost two decades Thought has been producing design-forward collections for the modern, contemporary woman using sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel and recycled fabrics. The feminine collections are responsibly produced in factories that adhere to high labour standards and every aspect of production is thoughtfully considered to ensure minimal environmental impact. Thought’s dresses feature classic silhouettes (shift dresses, capped sleeves, halter styles) and exclusive prints; designed for maximum utility, they can be worn to work, after work, to parties, after parties, and even as resort wear.
Shop Thought here. Use the code ENJOY15 and get 15% storewide until November 1, 2020.
Cult British designer Olivia Rose Havelock runs her small, independent eponymous label from her studio in Edinburgh. An ode to slow fashion, all garments are handmade to order to ensure there is no waste, and each garment takes approximately four hours to make from start to finish. Featured in fashion publications such as Vogue and Refinery29 and stocked in Selfridges, this made-to-order label launched in 2017 has had success most brands can only wish for.
Founded in 2002 by sister act, Alexandra and Genevieve Smart, Ginger & Smart is known for its sharp tailoring, bold colours and prints and playful styles. The brand is exploring innovative fabrications to reduce its environmental footprint with dresses made from FSC-certified viscose spandex that also complies with OEKO-TEX 100 STANDARD (no harmful chemicals to humans). Designed in Australia, made offshore, its manufacturers have been audited and score highly on labour standards, pay and conditions by globally recognised bodies such as WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) and Sedex.
For over 50 years, Carla Zampatti has been designing luxury clothing for the modern, working Australian woman. As one of Australia’s most recognised fashion designers, her longevity in a competitive landscape means she has been able to deliver quality, fashion-forward collections that continue to impress her clientele. Ethically produced in Australia, Carla Zampatti’s timeless pieces feature unique detailing, feminine silhouettes and accentuated styles that are coveted and collected. The collections also feature evenwear, bridal wear and leisure wear.
Founded in 2005 by three sisters, Manning Cartell’s feminine sensibility and razor sharp tailoring underpin all its collections. Designed and ethically manufactured in Australia using sustainably-sourced luxurious fabrics such as Italian Boucle Raffia, Manning Cartell is also holds Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation.
Known for its bohemian styling and hippie designs, Byron Bay-based conscious label Spell also produce a range of party frocks that are less boho and more SoHo. Featuring slinky designs, body-skimming slips and bustier mini dresses made from natural and sustainable fabrics such as silk and recycled polyester, these dresses are designed to wow upon entry and exit.
For simple and minimalist ethically-made party dresses in sustainable textiles such Lyocell, Tencel and linen, Arnsdorf delivers in spades. Founded by Jade Sarita Arnott in 2006, the Australian label owns its own factory in Melbourne and is Ethical Clothing Australia accredited and is also a certified B Corporation. The brand is working towards supply chain transparency and will reveal costings and expenses to provide customers a better understanding of the true cost of locally-made, conscious clothing.
Symbology fuses artisan textiles with feminine silhouettes, beautiful prints and flattering styles. Handcrafted by fairly-paid artisans in India the brand’s collection of wrap dresses, midi dresses, cocktail dresses and maxi dresses are so versatile they can be worn night, day, party or special weekend away. Symbology is the label for women looking for size-inclusive ethically-made dresses offering a little more coverage without losing any of the party fun.
Disclosure: Details are correct at time of publishing. Opinions are that of the writer’s. This curated list does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings here. Click here to read more about our policies. Cover image of Spell dress (left) and Manning Cartell dress.