Most women wear their wedding dress only once, after which the garment may disappear into a box, closet or attic space somewhere for the rest of its life. The same is often true for gala dresses. This is a great shame for a dress that has cost a lot of money (and resources), especially when you consider how many new dresses are sold every day.
With this project, Real Brides asbl would like to find a sustainable solution to that problem. So we started a bridal shop where people can donate theirwedding dress or evening gown, after which we sell it at more democratic prices.
We have three objectives. First, we want to offer wedding dresses and evening gowns a second (or even third) life for ecological reasons. Secondly, we want to offer women who cannot afford a dress a chance to still find that one dress this way. Thirdly, we want to further support women in difficulty, which is why we donate 60% of our proceeds to Think Pink, ANBN, Cherut and Mothers for Mothers.
Specifically, our organisation works as follows: we receive a dress in the form of a donation, with the donor choosing the charity that will receive a share of the proceeds. We then have the dress cleaned and offer it for sale through our webshop. We also have a self-appointed boutique where people can try on dresses.
We have already collected around 300 dresses in total. On the one hand, we received those dresses through donations, on the other hand, we also bought up a number of stock models that were otherwise destined for foreign buyers and exports.
Through our (online) boutique, we have already found new owners for 35 dresses, including 31 wedding dresses, since October 2019.
60% of the proceeds of the dresses sold go to charities. For instance, we have already donated more than 4,000 euros to Think Pink, ANBN, Cherut and Mothers for Mothers.
We have made people look at wedding dresses in a different way. We have both encouraged women to give their dresses a second life after that one day, and inspired people to consider second-hand options when looking for their dream dress.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Launching a completely new and unique concept requires patience and perseverance. At the start of our project, we had to repeat our ideas very often. It takes a while for the message to catch on and spread. But in the meantime, we can barely keep up with the number of donations and sales.
To be a good entrepreneur, networking is crucial; and this is doubly true within the circular economy. This is (still) a relatively new and small world, but where many people know each other, help each other and cooperate with each other.
We still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but we are extremely proud that we were a pioneer in Belgium with this concept. Meanwhile, several similar initiatives have already been added, proving that we have created awareness.
300donated and bought dresses
300m fabric saved
4.000euro donation to charity
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
This project is definitely here to stay. We have moved to a new location, are buying more dresses and also attracting more and more customers. Given the success of our story, we hope to employ someone in the future. Until now, our non-profit organisation worked exclusively with volunteers.
To grow further and get more brand awareness, we would like to start additional activities such as photo shoots with our dresses, and are looking forward to collaborations with big brands or designers.
Furthermore, we remain strongly committed to raising ecological awareness. In the future, we hope to convince more and more women to look for more eco-friendly alternatives such as second-hand clothes for their wedding.