Thousands of wedding gowns are donated to Oxfam every year, to be sold in shops and through Oxfam online. However, next weekend (March 25) – for the first time ever - brides-to-be will be able to view a selection of vintage and contemporary dresses in the charity’s first-ever pop-up bridal shop in Batley.
Oxfam’s Online Hub on Grange Road, also home to the charity’s Wastesaver operation, which recycles and resells donations from all over the country, is opening its doors to the public on Saturday (March 25) from 10am until 4pm, and will be showing around 200 bridal gowns as well as accessories such as shoes, gloves, bags and hats.
“Our total stock is thousands of items,” says Holly Rothwell, ecommerce and festivals manager, “but we’ve selected the top-quality stuff, including designer bridal gowns and vintage pieces from the 1940s up to the 1980s. These are gowns that were donated to Oxfam shops all over the country.
“Because we get so many wedding dresses we needed to think of another way to sell them. They do sell online, but we get a lot of returns. In the pop-up shop customers will be able to try them on.”
University of Huddersfield students Deborah Anderson and Natalie Pulsford, currently on a work placement at the Oxfam online hub, have been helping to prepare the bridal shop. “We can accommodate most sizes,” says Deborah, and all the dresses are in good condition. If they are stained then we have them dry cleaned.”
Natalie added: “The vintage and contemporary dresses sell for between £50 to £200. We also have bridesmaids dresses at around £50 and under, some still have the price labels on them.
With the average spend on a new wedding dress around £1,000 or more, seeking out a second-hand, pre-loved gown can represent quite a saving.
And it’s entirely possible to snap up a real bargain. The designer collection, for example, includes a gown by American couturier Vera Wang and there are countless exquisite beaded and lace dresses that must have cost their previous owners many thousands.
While traditional cream or ivory wedding dresses are still the most popular with Oxfam customers, the charity also sees quite a bit of interest in ‘alternative’ wedding gowns. The pop-up will be showing special occasion and evening wear gowns that could double up as a wedding dress for a chic, contemporary wedding.
“If it goes well,” says Holly, “we’ll repeat the pop-up bridal shop in September.”
In the meantime, if you can’t make it on Saturday, then it’s possible to view the bridal collection at one of the charity’s #Oxstyle personal shopping events, which take place every Thursday between 5.30pm and 7.15pm at the Batley warehouse and sorting centre. Places need to be booked, however, by emailing email@example.com
The charity also runs a chain of dedicated bridal shops around the country, with the nearest in Darley Street, Bradford.