In 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the highest global poverty increase occurred in India. Experts estimate that the number of those in poverty has increased from 60 million to 134 million people in under a year. With the poverty rate in India growing due to the pandemic, weddings are a luxury that some women cannot afford. However, a group of female entrepreneurs is working to provide free bridal wear to women in need, giving underprivileged brides a chance at their dream weddings.
Starting a New Idea
Rainbow: The Women’s Outfit is a boutique that Sabitha Nasar runs. She is a female entrepreneur opening her first boutique in Pappinisseri town in Kerala’s Kannur district. She first began her donation project after noticing some women were struggling to afford clothes for their weddings. As weddings in India can last around three to four days, bridal wear can be quite expensive.
Women typically only wear bridal wear once, so many consider it an extravagant, luxury expense. However, Nasar feels that everyone deserves a chance at the perfect wedding. Thus, she opened her boutique for exclusively donated outfits during the COVID-19 pandemic, a devastating time for the underprivileged in India.
After coming up with the concept of donated bridal wear, Nasar decided to reach out to friends and family on social media, asking for their unused clothes. She created a YouTube video that has since gone viral, garnering over a million views. Since then, designers and the wealthy have donated their wedding clothes and jewelry to Nasar’s shop. Due to the success of her outreach, donations arrived from Mumbai, Delhi, Dubai and even the U.K. Women were eager to help out, contributing clothes, footwear, handbags, jewelry, bedsheets and makeup sets.
The Process and the Impact
After the video’s release, Nasar continued her mission with the help of more than 20 other women. The women use a WhatsApp group called Agora and organize drives to raise money and donations for underprivileged women. Since they began their work, the women have collected hundreds of dresses, helping underprivileged brides and promoting sustainable practices. Nasar ensures that each of the dresses is of the utmost quality.
She dry cleans the dresses and provides the brides with alteration facilities. Nasar does not believe in compromising the quality of the dresses. She wants to make every bride feel like a queen. If a regular customer is interested in one of the donated dresses, Nasar negotiates with the bride to donate the price of the dress to an underprivileged woman.
The effects of a sustainable and female-led business are productive in combating global poverty and befitting the impoverished. Donating and upcycling practices to promote ethical fashion is important as many large clothing companies do not pay employees a living wage and force them to work in unethical conditions. Additionally, supporting women entrepreneurs helps reduce poverty as high levels of female economic participation lead to fewer slowdowns in economic growth.
– Carly Johnson