In Kerala, A Woman Set Up A Fashion Store For Brides-To-Be Who Can’t Afford Outfits And Accessories For Their Wedding. How Amazing Is This?
I staunchly believe there isn’t a woman out there who doesn’t want to walk down the aisle in the most gorgeous bridal outfit. Admit it, deep inside, we all are still obsessed with a fairytale wedding and want to look like a desi Disney princess. However, a bridal trousseau including that extravagant wedding outfit does cost a great deal. While some are privileged enough to dream of being dressed in a Sabyasachi lehenga for their big day, there are women who can barely meet the expenses of their wedding, let alone investing in a pricey bridal lehenga.
Plus, most Indian wedding shops are largely dedicated to pricey bridal outfits and accessories to cater to the the big fat Indian wedding culture. Do you remember that fairy godmother who helped Cinderella when she desperately needed a gorgeous dress to go to the royal ball and meet her prince? We might just have found the modern-age avatar of that godmother. Sabitha, a fashion designer from Kerala has set up a thrift store for the underprivileged brides to shop for their weddings without shelling out a single penny.
Her wedding boutique, Rainbow: The Women’s Outfit located in Pappinisseri town in Kerala’s Kannur district has an array of designer and regular Indian clothes and embellished accessories like shoes, jewellery and bags for brides who can’t manage to pay for their wedding shopping. The space that the owner calls a ‘cave for Cinderellas’ was set up during the lockdown by 41-year-old Sabitha. “I’ve been doing wedding dress donation drives for poor brides for years,” she says. “But while doing such work, I realised that these girls never had the option to choose the garment they wanted to wear. They had to stick to a hand-me-down even for the most important day of their life. I decided to fill this void by offering them a choice.” So, she went on to open a store with preloved outfits so that the needy brides could find their match, sartorial match that is, for their wedding.
Also Read: This Bride Made Sure Her Mother Did Her Kanyadaan Because Her Mom Was Always There For Her. This Should Be Normalised
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Sabitha gets these outfits from designers and people who want to discard their unwanted traditional clothes. “I reached out to my friends and family through social media to ask them if they’d like to donate their wedding attire to these brides. Such clothes are lying unworn and mothballed in our cupboards anyway. I collect all these dresses, dry clean them and then let them out. I’m also part of a WhatsApp group called Agora run by 22 female entrepreneurs in Kannur. We find donors, assess the quality of the clothes received, recycling those that are sub-par,” she told The Guardian.
She welcomes brides to explore their bridal pick at her shop and also ships Pan-India to brides who can’t visit the store. The brides can reach out to her through social media and get the wedding outfit shipped to her. “We also organise free makeup, henna and hairstyling sessions for some brides on request but it is a rule to maintain the privacy of the brides. None of their photos are put on social media.”
She has dressed as many as 900 brides for their wedding. And, it’s not just one outfit for the big day, Sabitha provides three outfits to each bride to accommodate the different Indian wedding ceremonies including haldi, mehendi and wedding, depending on the traditions and customs followed by the bride’s family. Plus, the store is open for them to take as many items, outfits and add-ons as they need without any condition to return. “If they want to return it after using it, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s OK too. I want the brides to have a sense of ownership about the dress,” says Sabitha. For brides who want the outfits to be shipped though, she needs to provide a certificate from a religious body in the community that ascertains she is getting married.
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A lot of times the traditional outfits we buy for weddings or celebration end up eating dust in our closet for life since they are worn just once or twice before the fashion trends change and we add something new to our wardrobe. Instead of holding on to these extravagant clothing items, you could donate them to such stores and help make someone else’s dream wedding come true with your preloved clothes. Sabitha is doing a great job by dressing up brides in need to look like a princess on their wedding. “Nothing is more satisfying than watching a radiant bride-to-be walk out of my shop feeling like a Cinderella. Many also send us videos wearing our dresses unable to hold back their tears of joy. It’s a very moving experience,” she says.