Say yes to the dress, for free
A Borivali resident is trying to ease the pressure around expensive wedding gowns with a no-cost rental service, using social media
Regardless of its value as a garment, wedding dresses do matter — if not to the bride or groom, then to the rom-coms, "reality" television shows, make-up artists and jewellers, and in India of course, to your parents. The pressure of finding the perfect wedding dress, sometimes at the cost of a kidney, is insurmountable. And that's what Sneha D'souza began questioning six months ago. "There's greater pressure put on women. And when it comes to a white wedding, you can't even wear the gown for other occasions. So, why should they be shelling out truck loads of money for a piece to be worn for two hours?"
D'souza started Hand Me Gown, a service based out of her home in IC Colony, Borivali, where she offers dresses to be borrowed for free via Facebook and WhatsApp. She started an Instagram page two months ago and now has 18 white gowns in her collection, sourced from friends and strangers. This month, two brides have borrowed her garments while five have booked them for December. She also approached celebrities and designers on IG, but didn't receive a response. Talking about the challenges, D'souza recalls the discouragement she received. "A friend's cousin couldn't afford her wedding. When she was hunting for a cheap gown, she found a rental that was charging her Rs 10,000. I was shocked at the cost. When I asked friends if they would lend their gowns, some of them said, 'No, it's blessed, so we cannot give it to you.' But isn't that all the more reason to give it away?" she asks.
The 32-year-old, who runs an events and decor company full-time, states that the procedure is simple and there is no deadline to approach her: brides have booked dresses two weeks before D-Day. All one needs to do is contact her and book an appointment for a trial. For security, D'souza accepts a fully refundable deposit of R5,000 and takes a laundry charge. "Most of my clients are either those who cannot afford to buy a gown or those who support recycling. I've also had fairly well-to-do brides renting from me and that's got me thinking. For those who can afford, but don't want to spend money on a dress — there's no way to conduct background checks — I'm planning to ask them to donate a certain amount to an NGO or old age home," she shares.
Given the locality she's based out of and her social circle, D'souza's collection for now is restricted to garments for a Catholic wedding; she rents veils, buckrams, mittens and tiaras, too. But she's open to expanding her collection to bridal lehengas. "I aspire to build a community and one day, hopefully someone can even offer a space for trials. After all, this is about spreading kindness, not making money."
Also check out
Vintage Desi: This Khar-based venture is an online store to buy brand new and pre-loved designer clothing at a bargain.
Log on to vintagedesi.com
Stylflip: De-clutter your wardrobe and buy second-hand clothes through their website or mobile app.
Log on to stylflip.com
Log on to Hand Me Gown on Facebook and Instagram (bookings open to non-Mumbaikars as long as orders can be picked up)
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