The Dessy Group is helping women lose the always-the-bridesmaid moniker by launching Newlymaid.com, an e-commerce site that recycles old bridesmaid dresses in exchange for discounts for new black dresses.
This story first appeared in the May 10, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
President and chief executive officer Alan Dessy knows firsthand how many thousands of bridesmaid dresses are sold and then promptly stowed away each year, since his company churns out their share under an assortment of labels. “Like a lot of companies, we strive to make dresses that will be worn again, but at the end of the day they probably aren’t. It occurred to me there is this sea of merchandise that no one is reclaiming and recycling. We know there are probably a lot of dresses that are languishing in girls’ closets. They don’t always have a say in what they wear.”
Through Newlymaid, which officially launches today, visitors can donate bridesmaid dresses from any brand, not just ones that are under The Dessy Group’s umbrella. At this site, users request a return mailer with a prepaid shipping label and they can watch a video to see how the garment should be packaged. The donated goods must be in good condition without any pulls, tears or stains, and all zippers and closures must work. Upon receipt of the dress, they will be notified via e-mail that their special pricing has been unlocked, allowing them to buy a new dress at Newlymaid should they choose to.
Their savings will range from 30 to 50 percent for six styles of dresses priced under $200.
The donated dresses that are suitable for reuse will be given to Clothes4souls.org, a new division of the nonprofit Soles4Souls. In addition, Newlymaid has partnered with Unifi, the global textiles giant, to recycle polyester dresses and going forward Newlymaid will offer select styles made of Repreve, recycled fibers made by Unifi. Last week Unifi unveiled a 50,000-square-foot Repreve recycling center in Yadkinville, N.C., Dessy noted.
In addition to bridesmaid dresses, The Dessy Group is recycling mother-of-the-bride dresses, prom dresses and other special occasion styles. Dessy may repurpose select styles of donated dresses.
Before embarking on this initiative, Dessy said he researched a few other recycling efforts such as Patagonia’s Common Threads program, which encourages shoppers to donate their old Capilene garments, which are then sent to the Japanese company Teijin to be recycled, Dessy said.
Founded in 1939 as a bridal millinery, A&M Rosenthal, now known as The Dessy Group, first ventured into bridesmaid dresses in the Fifties. Vivian Diamond heads up design direction for the company which produces an assortment of dresses under its signature label, as well as Cynthia Rowley Bridesmaids, Lela Rose Bridesmaids, Sandals Destination Wedding Dresses, Alfred Sung and After Six. Having recently unveiled a new product line called Social Bridesmaid and acquired After Six last month, Dessy said he does not have any immediate plans for further acquisitions.