At what cost?

February 23, 2010

Today I went to the bridal shop and bought my dress… a lovely bridesmaid dress that I just love.  I am totally surprised that I made a decision so quickly… I tried it on Saturday and bought it today!  It’s simple and beautiful and has a lot of personality.  And it was cheap, which brings me to my next point…

While calculating the dress’ arrival, the ladies at the shop had to account for Chinese New Year… which made me suddenly question where my dress is coming from and who will be laboring over it.

Caught up in a the whirl of wedding planning, I received a wake up call about how the garment industry operates.  I’d like to do more research about where these dresses come from, and at what cost are brides’ dresses being made?  I regret not being more informed before my purchase, because I feel that my purchasing power is one of the few ways I can impact the industry as a consumer.  And a wedding dress is a bigggg purchase, so think of where all that money is going?

I’m not on some high horse.  It’s just good to think about.  I’d love to hear anyone else’s opinions or research.



  1. A lady at a bridal shop gave us the low down and said pretty much every bridal dress is sown in China (I haven’t checked if this is actually true) But this bridal store also had a line from Spain which is also where their gowns are made. The dresses were at least about $1000 higher than other lines, so is it fair to assume the price of those gowns matched the wages they paid their sewers?

    I’m all for putting your money towards what is right and ethical. So do you boycott the Chinese factories where they may not get a fair wage and send your money on to a unknown factory of some sort in Spain or hire a local dressmaker? What would happen to those workers in China if everyone hired dressmakers in the US? (which won’t happen, I know)

    I’m not sure what the right answer is. I’m still holding out on trying to find a used/vintage/someone’s dress regret, but I’m concerned that finding one will take too long and I’ll need to buy a new one – because dresses take a long time to get shipped over from China

    • Davanie- Thanks for your thoughts on this. I don’t know what the ‘right’ answer is either, and I see your argument about purchasing power not being a perfect solution. I love the idea of hiring a local dressmaker to make a truly one of a kind piece, but obviously this is not cost effective. Vintage or used is a great way to use resources that are already out there. Good luck on your quest for your dress! Let me know what you end up doing!

  2. there’s supposed to be a *sigh* at the end of that last sentence: a tired sigh.

  3. I’ve heard that Premiere Couture on Monroe st. is the only bridal boutique in Southern WI that buys American made designers, but I’ve also heard they are pretty pricey. If you do want to go the used route I’ve heard of a couple good sites like http://www.thedressmarket.net, or encorebridal.com. Another option is to buy a dress from the Brides Against Breast Cancer program where you can buy once-used or sample dresses and the proceeds go towards breast cancer research, I’m sure most of those dresses are still made in China but you might feel like your offsetting the negatives of that by spending money on something positive.

    • Thanks Maia! Those are really great ideas. I already bought my dress… but I would love to pass this info along to other Madison brides!

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