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Thoughts on Repurposing.

The formerly unwanted gown that is about to undergo a transformation.
Jessica Potter


It is a common enough word, especially these days when everyone is into upcycling and reusing and making sure things don’t go to waste. But how much thought do we really put into the word itself and what it means? Due to overuse it seems to have taken on that shabby well-worn mantle held by words that are known without being really understood.

The word purpose is defined as (among other things): “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” It is a word that is tied to some of the deepest philosophical and spiritual questions asked by humans. Purpose: what and why we are. With that in mind, I take it as no light thing when setting out to “repurpose” an item.

Case in point; I have recently come into possession of a used wedding dress with a sad history. The woman who wore it had her heart broken soon after and has since been able to remarry and move on to actual happiness. The dress however has been able to do nothing but remind her of that time. And so, rather than throw it out she elected to sell it to someone who could find some use in it.

Enter the “re” aspect of the purpose. With a little time and sweat the unwanted dress will be transformed from a bad memory into a completely new costume. Altered, cut, adjusted, torn, dyed, frayed, and finally, stitched back together in a new shape. The same dress, with a new personality, new spirit and new identity. A mirror of the painful, but necessary process that any human must go through to reach the other side of transformation.

From my perspective there is a massive amount of metaphor in this situation. The previous owner, rather than holding onto the pain and punishing herself and innocent aspects of her past, chose to let it go, forgiving those people and things that were not the cause of her pain and allowing them and herself to find new life, new purpose, and thus renewal.

The original purpose of the dress was broken, mocked and treated as a sham. Much like what happened to the once happy bride who wore it. Much like what happens to so many of us throughout life. And like everyone, she was given the chance to let go, move on and be happy or to hold on and suffer from a past that cannot change and cannot be of any further use. And that act of moving on is now mirrored in her choice to give the dress to someone who would give it a new life as well.

The previous owner has very kindly asked to see the finished product once I complete this dress. And I fervently hope that I succeed it making it a visual representation of her new joy and purpose as well. Please check back for updates as I work on this special project.

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