The idea came to her after realizing that weddings today, including her own, often have “months and a year’s worth of events,” she told WWD.
“It’s amazing, you feel so loved and celebrated, but you’re also buying 100 white dresses — it’s a huge financial burden and feels a bit wasteful,” she said of her experience buying copious amounts of white dresses — ones she might not have a need for beyond wedding events.
Although Brennan Hughes was comfortable renting clothes and shopping resale, she didn’t see enough places providing bridal and wedding resale shopping for events spanning bridal showers, engagement parties, ceremonies, after parties, rehearsal dinners, etc.
“There’s an incredible marketplace out there, but you really have to know exactly what you’re looking for,” she said, both overwhelmed by the results of “white dress” or “wedding” on the internet, and underwhelmed by the lack of inspirational and discoverable aspects to existing options with pre-loved bridal fashions.
“I had this gut feeling that there was really something there. I connected with a bunch of other brides; did a lot of research in the bridalwear space, which is not only growing but continuing to grow, as well as research into the resale side of things,” she said, noting the uptick of resale and vintage shopping specifically from younger generations.
Brennan Hughes’s research and background in brand partnerships at Twitter (now X) became the foundation of Rowely, an emerging, upscale peer-to-peer resale marketplace for all things bridalwear. The site, which aims to be “discoverable, sustainable and affordable,” was created last August and launched in March. Since then, the site has gained a strong community and ample following through word-of-mouth and social media. Although a young brand, the Rowley marketplace already lists a wide range of of bridal fashions and accessories for peer-to-peer sale such as Jenny Yoo gowns, Loeffler Randall footwear, designer veils, and much more.
“It’s very peer-to-peer. You can log on, create an account, upload listings and share photos. We want to make it as easy as possible to the seller,” Brennan Hughes said, adding that sellers are able to disclose details about alterations and blemishes, set their own prices (Rowely takes a 20 percent commission per piece), offer prices as “open to negotiation,” chat directly with potential buyers through the messaging portal, and easily ship sold items through prepaid shipping labels.
The emerging site enables sellers and customers access to bridal gowns, white fashions and accessories — veils are a big request on the site — at a more affordable, pre-loved price, while also being a sustainable shopping destination.
From a wider view, the company is also focused on building a bridal community; next week, the brand will host its first New York City-based curated pop-up shop. In the future, Brennan Hughes envisions expanding into categories such as mother of the bride, wedding guests, bridesmaids, etc; partnering with more influencers and following them through their own bridal journeys; launching business-to-business offerings with wedding brands to list and sell their sample inventory, and debuting a website section dedicated to curating bridal resources spanning from venues and vendor lists to bridal trends.