Nasar Thootha, founder of Dress Bank.
Sabir Hussain/New Delhi
Forty-four-year-old Nasar Thootha, a native of Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district of Kerala who once worked in a supermarket in Saudi Arabia, now plays the role of a good Samaritan for brides from poor families after he returned home.
He started driving a taxi after he returned in March 2013 and was also involved in charity. In March 2020, Nasar started what has come to be known as the Dress Bank project after being moved by the plight of many poor families who were struggling to buy costly bridal dresses and bear other wedding expenses. In a little over a year, he is thrilled by the roaring success of the Dress Bank project.
“Under the project, about 200 brides from economically weak families were able to dress up for their weddings in bridal dresses that would normally have been out of their reach. There are no charges for the clothes that we give away,” he told Awaz-The Voice.
Nasar Thootha shows off a bridal at the Dress Bank.
Nasar leaned on social media and word of mouth to spread the message that he was looking for people to donate their wedding dresses because they seldom wear them more than once.
“My appeal clicked and people started donating their wedding dresses, particularly bridal wear. My family and friends helped me pool the once-used dresses and we started offering them to brides from poor families in our locality,” says the humble taxi driver and father of four.
He began the operations from his home with a set of 100 donated wedding outfits before renting a one-room shop for the venture in his neighbourhood. The shop generally opens on Tuesdays and Sundays.
“Even otherwise I am just a call away. I don’t operate from a taxi stand, so I am usually nearby if someone needs a dress on any other day when the shop is not open.”
The project started receiving contributions from various parts of the state and outside.
“All the dresses that we receive are almost brand new because they would have been used for just a few hours. But we dry-clean the dresses anyway before giving them to others. Although we do not ask the families to return the dresses after use, some of them do,” he says.
Nasar Thootha with a bridal dress at the Dress Bank
Anyone who needs a bridal dress and cannot afford to buy one can pick it up from Nasar’s Dress Bank which now has a collection of about 1,000 dresses.
"We now have a collection of around 1,000 traditional bridal outfits for Muslim, Christian, and Hindu brides. The market prices range between Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 and are beyond the reach of many people. We now have donors coming from other states. We have also had NRIs donating their wedding dresses,” says Nasar.
While the Dress Bank project has been a hit with women, there are not many requests for bridegroom's outfits and so there aren’t many attires for grooms with Nasar.