Aiming to address the issue of “throwaway fashion” and its impact on the environment as landfill, students at Sheffield Hallam University have combined fashion design with engineering to create a dissolvable wedding dress that can be converted into five different fashion pieces before being dissolved in water leaving no environmental footprint.

The success of low-cost retailers has driven down the price of clothes in the UK leading to an estimated drop in price of 25% in recent years. This has led to a 40% increase in clothes purchases to more than two million tonnes per year. Of this, 74% will ultimately end up in landfill making textiles the fastest-growing waste product in the UK.

"The students wanted to challenge the notion that a wedding dress should only be used once and aimed to explore modern society's attitudes towards throwaway fashion,” said Jane Blohm, a lecturer on the fashion design course at Sheffield Hallam.

"In order to reduce fashion's impact on the environment, the fashion industry must begin to challenge conventional attitudes and practices. The exhibition demonstrates what could be possible when design and scientific innovation combine forces."

The wedding dress was chosen as an iconic representation of the “wear once” philosophy that pervades modern fashion. Polyvinyl alcohol, a biodegradable substance used in washing detergents, is knitted into the dress fabric which allows it to dissolve in water leaving no impact on the environment. But not before it can be reprized as five new fashion garments, each representing a stage of the transformation - assuming that perspiration or weather hasn't made Swiss cheese of the dress already of course.

The designs were featured in the exhibition “A Sustainable Marriage” displayed at the Sheffield Hallam University Furnival Gallery.

View gallery - 2 images