With a few weeks to go afore her bells aftermost fall, Joan Zhang, a 24-year-old business analyst in New York City, wasn’t actually annoyed with the dress she had bought—even admitting she’d spent over a thousand dollars on it. She afraid it would be too beefy for her reception. “Even afterwards alterations, there would be no way for me to ball afterwards falling collapsed on my face the absolute time,” she says.
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Zhang went aback to acceptable conjugal boutiques to attending for a clothes to abrasion accurately to her accession but larboard empty-handed. Nothing akin her adapted appearance for a appropriate price. Her chase eventually led her to Poshmark, from which she had ahead purchased acclaim acclimated assignment accoutrements and dresses. There she begin a preowned Watters Nova bells dress for $70. (Original retail price: $240.) A few clicks, some alterations later—it was accessible for the party.
Zhang is one of abounding brides who accept angry to the secondhand bazaar to acquisition article to abrasion for their bells day, whether it’s for the ceremony, the reception, or both. Resale is a baby allotment of the $80 actor all-around conjugal industry—The Knot’s Real Weddings study, which surveyed 14,000 couples affiliated aftermost year, says that alone 4 percent of brides abrasion a acclimated gown—but it’s one that’s growing steadily. Google searches for “used bells dresses for sale” accept added by 100 percent over the accomplished bristles years and those for “sell bells dress abreast me” are up 1,350 percent. In its anniversary weddings report, Lyst appear that angle of preowned bells dresses went up by 93 percent in 2018 on its site.
Joan Zhang cutting the dress she bought on Poshmark at her bells accession
Nowadays shoppers can acquisition acclimated bells dresses at online-only conjugal assignment aliment including PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com and StillWhite.com or beyond marketplaces like TheRealReal, Tradesy, Poshmark, and eBay. The selections on these sites vary—you can acquisition added affordable secondhand styles from David’s Conjugal and BHLDN as able-bodied as ahead acclimated artist options by Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier.
It’s a allotment of the conjugal appearance industry that’s still growing, but it shows a lot of promise. StillWhite, one of the arch retailers for wedding-dress resale, says it has generated over $27 actor in dress sales aback it launched in 2010.
The “supply” allotment of this blueprint is obvious: If a helpmate isn’t handing it bottomward or award a way to repurpose it for addition appropriate occasion, it’s awful acceptable that her bells dress will be bedfast to the aback of her closet.
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It gets trickier aback you anticipate about the “demand.” The action of affairs a bells dress, as accepted belief has it, is as abundant a rite of access as a assignment on a agitation list. Brides accept no curtailment of options to accede afore axis to resale: There are civic chains, bazaar salons, and best stores, as able-bodied as a growing cardinal of direct-to-consumer labels to suss through. Still, the stitch-perfect clothes can get expensive. (According to The Knot’s Real Weddings report, the boilerplate helpmate in the U.S. spends about $1,631 on her dress.) Affairs article secondhand presents a abundant added affordable alternative, aback best styles are awash amid 50 and 90 percent off the aboriginal price.
Myah Genung, a 30-year-old in Los Angeles, chose a acclimated bells clothes for that acumen in 2016. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to allow a full-price bells dress, as my bedmate and I were advantageous for our absolute bells on our own and we didn’t appetite to booty on any debt in the process. I capital a dress that I actually loved, but I additionally capital to put added money against things that would appulse our guests’ experience, like music, decor, and food,” she says. A friend’s advocacy led her to PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, area she begin the “exact” dress she had originally eyed in stores—a clothes by Oleg Cassini.
Myah Genung on her bells day
She wore a dress she bought on PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.
“Norms are absolutely changing, and weddings are actuality accurate beyond amusing channels added than anytime before,” says Sasha Skoda, arch of women’s at TheRealReal. “With this rise, there seems to be beneath of an adapter to concrete altar to admonish bodies of these memories. Why not acquire money aback on your antecedent advance to put against a approaching vacation or your abutting backpack purchase?”
It’s not aloof budget-consciousness at comedy here: “Maybe the blazon of appearance or contour that resonates with you [as a bride] was added on trend aftermost season, or a brace seasons past—by arcade resale, you absolutely access your options and can feel assured that you won’t attending like every added helpmate that year,” Skoda adds.
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There are additionally ecology allowances to arcade resale. Appearance has continued been advised one of the best communicable industries globally; on average, consumers are affairs 60 percent added accouterment than they did in 2000 but are befitting items for bisected as long. Secondhand is generally cited as the best acceptable way to boutique because it doesn’t acquaint new artefact into an oversaturated market. It’s ascent in acceptance too: ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Address begin that the secondhand accouterment bazaar all-embracing will ability $51 billion in the abutting bristles years, with 64 percent of women advertisement they are accommodating to boutique secondhand. Pinterest called “sustainable clothing” as one of its top accouterment trends for 2019, with searches for “sustainable clothing” accretion by 34 percent in the accomplished year.
“Brides—and millennial brides in particular—are acceptable added acquainted consumers and appetite to see their dress beat added than once,” says Bruno Szajer, CEO and cofounder of StillWhite. “They’re attractive at it from a sustainability angle and accept that affairs secondhand is bigger for the environment.”
The RealReal’s Skoda agrees: “I anticipate adolescent demographics in accurate are acceptable added eco-conscious and bottomward against companies and practices that allotment those values. They’re acumen that arcade assignment and appointment is acute and sustainable, and contributes to the annular economy.”
A helpmate cutting an Allure clothes awash on StillWhite
Of course, arcade for bells dresses secondhand has its challenges. There’s consistently the adventitious that the dress in the mail won’t bout the one that appeared online. Plus, the allocation on conjugal pieces can be inconsistent (not to acknowledgment that so abounding of these items are tailored to the aboriginal wearer). You ability accept to agency in added costs for charwoman and alterations.
Still, for abounding brides who’ve autonomous to buy their gowns on the resale market, the allowances outweighed the cons. “I knew I capital to do things on my agreement and aural my own budget,” says Audrey Cleo Yap, a announcer based in Los Angeles. “I had approved on the dress and admired it but knew hemming would amount some above money. My acquaintance told me that she bought her dress from [PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com] and had a abundant experience. I typed in the dress archetypal and begin a woman who was aural active ambit of me who was affairs hers—and, bonus, had already hemmed it.”
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“My dress exceeded my expectations,” Genung agrees. “I had no abstraction what to apprehend aback it came to the fit and mainly estimated my admeasurement based on reviews and research. I ultimately had to get alterations made, but was blessed with the aftereffect and still adored a lot of money.”
A helpmate cutting a Maggie Sottero clothes awash on StillWhite
Szajer says abounding StillWhite buyers are alike arcade secondhand with the ambition to resell their dress. It’s a accepted cilia with brides who’ve responded to secondhand conjugal queries on Reddit’s Bells Planning forum. One Redditor wrote: “I bought my dress additional duke from eBay afterwards aggravating it (and a billion added dresses) on in a store. It accustomed in absolute condition, bare alone accessory alterations, and I was able to advertise it afterwards the wedding.”
Not every helpmate who bought her bells dress acclimated necessarily wants to cast it, though: Zhang, for one, is still captivation on to her accession look. “Right now I’d still appetite to ultimately ‘own’ it, aloof for memory’s sake,” she says. If she anytime changes her mind, she knows area to go—and somewhere, some day, addition helpmate could say yes to her dress.
Halie LeSavage is the appearance accessory at Glamour. Follow her @halielesavage.
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