Prom Closet Nanaimo, a non-profit seeking to remove cost-prohibitive shopping for high school formals, is taking appointments for March 5-7. (Submitted photo)

‘Going green’ en vogue in bid to make high school proms affordable

Non-profit Prom Closet Nanaimo looking to make the big night less cost-prohibitive

An organizer of a non-profit aiming to alleviate the financial burden of shopping for high school prom says “going green” is becoming en vogue.

Prom Closet Nanaimo began in 2015 and has traditionally been offered to graduating secondary school students for whom formal-wear shopping is cost-prohibitive. While it is still offered for “financial reasons,” its scope has broadened, as it is starting to appeal to socially conscious students, says Joan Hiemstra, event coordinator.

“What’s come out of it very much is how many students are also interested in it for environmental reasons,” said Hiemstra. “Because fashion is one of the world’s biggest polluters, a lot of the gowns and the formal wear are made out of synthetic fabrics and they are nasty fabrics … reusing a prom gown is an environmental action, is a positive social action, in terms of reusing something that is perfectly fine.

“Most gowns can easily go to three or four proms before they start to look worn because people wear them carefully, people take care of them and they’re quite strong fabrics, most of them.”

Hiemstra said if people are able to afford it, Prom Closet Nanaimo volunteers will tell them subtly they are open to a donation, although it is not a requirement.

READ ALSO: SD68 aboriginal grad rate reaches all-time high

This year’s event will take place at an undisclosed location from March 5-7 by appointment only, with 50 spots available and with 25 left as of Thursday morning, according to Hiemstra.

“People do have to make an appointment. It’s not a lookie-loo,” Hiemstra said.

Hiemstra said the non-profit always welcomes donated dress wear.

“We’re always looking for dark formal suits and prom dresses in larger sizes and this year we started requesting strapless bras as well for the first time,” said Hiemstra.

An event offering tuxedos, suits and menswear will be offered in the future, but dates have not yet been determined.

For more information, including how to book an appointment, donate items or sign up as a volunteer, please go to

READ ALSO: Nanaimo teen makes it to prom days after her dress was stolen

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