Secondhand wedding dress shopping? It is the buyer’s market

(Field note)

Beverly Ip has always dreamed of getting married in a gown from bridal lines like Monique Lulia, Berta or Casablanca. The former owner of a rental business who provided linen, glassware and other supplies for the wedding, Yip, who sold the company in 2017, identified the designers of choice by noting what the other brides were wearing.

During her engagement in February 2021, “I never thought I would be married,” Ip, 44, said. Another scene he did not even imagine? Buy a gown secondhand.

Her search for a wedding dress began at a Monique Lulia store near her home in San Francisco, where she found the experience a bit scary. “It was like that ‘beautiful lady’ scene – no one even offered me a dress,” she said. “I guess I didn’t see it as affordable.”

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Appointments were followed at other stores, including David’s Bridal. But Yip, who now works in software sales, found nothing worth spending thousands of dollars on. She soon expanded her search to secondhand retailers, starting with the Quinley website, where she had previously resold a formal apparel. After browsing for a few days, she bought a pre-owned Jovani gown for $ 500 from the website to wear to the June 26 wedding.

The strapless ivory dress, which has a delicate sweetheart neckline, a crystal embellished waistband and a high leg slit, “looks like me,” Ip said.

“You can find a dress that makes you look beautiful on a budget – you can save thousands of dollars,” he added. “You have to be willing to dig a little.”

Lately, many secondhand retailers have more – much more – wedding dresses than last year, giving brides like Yip a better chance of finding a gown that suits their style and budget.

Nicki Pak, 36, an independent business and career coach in Hamilton, New Zealand, drove two hours in February 2021 to pick up a dress from a website called Steel White that specializes in selling pre-owned bridal gowns.

“I was five months pregnant then,” said Pak, whose wedding took place the following month at a vineyard on Waiheke Island. “I’ve arranged the wedding in just three months,” he added.

Pakistani designer Stella York paid about $ 370 for the clothing, which retailed for $ 2,500 according to her list. “I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a dress,” she said, “because I was pregnant. We wanted to get married early.”

“I was really good with the woman I bought it from,” Pak added. “I even sent him a picture of him wearing it on my wedding day.”

At Vestiaire Collective, a luxury resale website, the number of wedding dress lists increased by 527% between March 2020 and March 2022 when compared to the two-year period between March 2018 and March 2020, says Amber Lopez, manager of a brand partnership and impact company.

The purchase of wedding dresses from Vestiaire Collective, which has no listing fee and earns 12% of each total sales, increased by 480% compared to the same two-year period, Lopez added.

Steel White, which charges a 20 listing fee but does not charge a commission on sales, has more than 60,000 wedding dresses that range in price from $ 10 to $ 60,000, says its founder, Ingrid Sajar.

Jenna Wolf, 34, of Bloomfield, Michigan, and her parents, who are at home in Bloomfield, bought a “Vera” gown from Lee Petra Grebenau to wear to their destination in Miami in May 2020. When the epidemic came, he first crossed his fingers for a dream event that he thought might still happen. “I was optimistic, but then Miami closed,” she said, “and the venue canceled our marriage.”

That spring, Wolfe and her husband tied the knot in a courthouse in Los Angeles, where they lived at the time, largely because she needed to be on an insurance plan. Then they had a child and now, she said, “I’m pregnant with No. 2.” The wedding gown she bought for $ 7,500, she added, “wouldn’t fit me.”

Unaltered, it is currently listed on Steel White for 6,000.

“Clothing was the second largest cost after the venue,” Wolf said. “I was sad to list it for resale,” he added, “and there were a few weeks where I just cried. But the baby’s excitement helped.”

Oke Ogen, 31, who lives in Astoria, Queens, said he originally bought two dresses to wear to the wedding he planned in Brooklyn in 2020: “one for the occasion and one for the reception.”

When that event was canceled due to the epidemic, “I ended up getting married in a conference room at a Marriott on Long Island,” said Ogden, who works as a paraprofessional at a public school. “So I just wore the reception dress for it.”

The gown she didn’t wear for her show came from Vera Wang and retailed for $ 1,000. Oghene, who said he bought it for 600 when stores cut prices due to the epidemic, is now selling it at হো 800 on Steel White.

“I don’t feel sorry for selling it, because I never wore it. There is no emotional attachment, ”he said. “The dress I wore, I’ll keep forever.”

This article was originally published in the New York Times.

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