Something borrowed: Online boutique for pre-worn wedding gowns launches in Dubai

New e-marketplace dresscometrue.com allows brides in the Middle East to sell their pre-loved gowns. (Supplied)
Updated 10 June 2019

Something borrowed: Online boutique for pre-worn wedding gowns launches in Dubai

  • Some of the dresses are almost 70% cheaper than their original price
  • Sellers can choose to list their dress under three different options of service

DUBAI: Brides-to-be in the Gulf often spend the lead up to their big day frantically searching for the perfect wedding dress. It’s no secret that options in the region are far from plentiful and it isn’t unheard of for brides to head abroad in the hunt for the ultimate bridal gown.

After struggling to find her own wedding dress, Dubai-based entrepreneur Eva Hachem joined forces with her husband Andy Werner to launch Dress Come True, a new platform that allows brides to shop for pre-loved wedding gowns online, with as much as 70 percent off the original retail price.

“I got married in Dubai and… I struggled to find my dream dress. I found that the prices were unreasonable and I either had to compromise on the selection or on the price,” Hachem told Arab News.

“After the wedding, I wanted to sell the dress so I picked up the phone and called boutiques and I said ‘okay, all the brides who buy from you, where do they re-sell their dress?’ They said, ‘We wish (we knew), all the brides ask us.”

The exchange sparked an idea that quickly snowballed into the new platform, one where brides can sell the “one dress you will never wear again,” while making sure it goes to someone who will cherish the gown.  

Loved-up newlyweds can list their gowns on the website for a one-time fee, with three options available. The basic package costs $22 and requires the seller to organize the delivery, while the second option allows the seller to fall back on the Dress Come True team to organize the delivery for a one-time fee of $35. Finally, for $41, sellers can avail the so-called concierge service, where the company handles all aspects of the sale.

But can brides bear to part with such an important item of clothing?

“Yesterday we talked to a bride who said something very interesting,” Hachem told Arab News. “She said, ‘I have had my dress for two years and I cherish it, but I don’t want to keep it. I never had the heart to list it next to any other item… So, when I saw the (website) and how the dresses are valued, it felt like the right place to list my dress. It has sentimental value, but you are not going to wear it again.’”


South Asian marriage websites under fire for color bias

Updated 12 July 2020

South Asian marriage websites under fire for color bias

DHAHRAN: An online backlash has forced the matrimonial website Shaadi.com to take down an ‘skin color’ filter which asked users to specify their skin color using descriptors such as fair, wheatish or dark. The filter on the popular site, which caters to the South Asian diaspora, was one of the parameters for matching prospective partners.

Meghan Nagpal, a Toronto-based graduate student, logged on to the website and was appalled to see the skin-color filter. “Why should I support such archaic view [in 2020]?” she told Arab News.

Nagpal cited further examples of implicit biases against skin color in the diaspora communities – women who are dark-skinned are never acknowledged as “beautiful” or how light-skinned South Asian women who are mistaken as Caucasian consider it a compliment.

“Such biases stem from a history of colonization and the mentality that ‘white is superior’,” she said.

When Nagpal emailed the website’s customer service team, she received the response that “this is what most parents require.” She shared her experience on a Facebook group, attracting the attention of Florida-based Roshni Patel and Dallas-based Hetal Lakhani. The former took to online activism by tweeting the company and the latter started an online petition.

Overnight, the petition garnered more 1,500 signatures and the site eventually removed the filter.

“Now is the time to re-evaluate what we consider beautiful. Colorism has significant consequences in our community, especially for women. People with darker skin experience greater prejudice, violence, bullying and social sanctions,” the petition reads. “The idea that fairer skin is ‘good’ and darker skin is ‘bad’ is completely irrational. Not only is it untrue, but it is an entirely socially constructed perception based in neo-colonialism and casteism, which has no place in the 21st century.”

Overnight, the petition garnered more 1,500 signatures and the site eventually removed the filter.

“When a user highlighted this, we were thankful and had the remnants removed immediately. We do not discriminate based on skin color and our member base is as diverse and pluralistic as the world,” a spokesperson said.

“If one company starts a movement like this, it can change minds and perceptions. This is a step in the right direction,” said Nagpal. Soon after, Shaadi.com’s competitor Jeevansathi.com also took down the skin filter from its website.

Colorism and bias in matrimony is only one issue; prejudices are deeply ingrained and widespread across society. Dr. Sarah Rasmi, a Dubai-based psychologist, highlights research and observations on how light skin is an advantage in society.

The website took down the skin filter following backlash.

“Dark skin tends to have lower socio-economic status and, in the US justice system, has been found to get harsher and more punitive sentences.

“These biases for fair as opposed to dark skin comes from colonial prejudices and the idea that historically, light skin has been associated with privilege, power and superiority,” she said.

However, in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter protests, change is underway.

Last month, Johnson & Johnson announced that it will be discontinuing its skin whitening creams in Asian and Middle Eastern markets, and earlier this month Hindustan Unilever Limited (Unilever’s Indian subsidiary) announced that it will remove the words ‘fair, white and light’ from its products and marketing. To promote an inclusive standard of beauty, it has also renamed its flagship Fair & Lovely product line to Glow & Lovely.

“Brands have to move away from these standards of beauty and be more inclusive so that people – regardless of their color, size, shape or gender – can find a role model that looks like them in the mass media,” said Dr. Rasmi.