TikToker, who turned a vintage dress into a birthday dress, is defending the decision

  • TikToker Kelley Heyer turned a 1970s dress she bought on eBay into her birthday dress.
  • Some users said Heyer transformed “a beautiful vintage piece of art” into “something you would find at Shein”.
  • Heyer defended her decision, sparking debate over whether vintage clothing should be preserved or recycled.

A woman’s decision to repurpose a 1970s dress into her birthday dress sent the internet into a frenzy, sparking debate over whether it’s better to preserve or repurpose vintage clothing.

This month, Kelley Heyer invited her 157,000 TikTok followers to watch her transform a light blue dress into a fish birthday dress in two videos. She told Insider that she bought the $55 dress on eBay before realizing it was likely an old prom dress or theatrical costume.

The first video, shared on March 2, showed her cutting, re-stitching and beading the fabric.

“Trying to transform this already special vintage ’70s dress into something even more special,” Heyer, who lives in New York City, wrote in the caption.

A day later, she uploaded a second video showing the finished design, but the caption addressed opinions criticizing her dress.

“Please remember this is my birthday dress and I am really happy with the results,” Heyer wrote.

Heyer told Insider she worked on the dress from February 20 to March 3, drawing inspiration from a variety of aesthetics along the way.

“I was really inspired by the dress in Drew Barrymore’s Cinderella film ‘Ever After’ as well as the dress from the Italian Renaissance,” said Heyer. “I also wanted a look that was reminiscent of the disco era of the ’60s and ’70s.”

Some users suggested Heyer “ruined” the dress with her adjustments.

As the videos gained prominence, even shared on Twitter without Heyer’s knowledgesome users suggested that she “ruined” the dress and should have left it alone.

“Humans really have the audacity to take something that has passed through time and destroy it,” one person wrote.

Another person wrote that the dress went from “beautiful vintage work or art to something you would find at Shein.”

But for every negative comment, many applauded Heyer’s birthday dress and praised her for showing sustainable fashion.

“The original dress was lovely but I’m so happy it’s getting a new life,” wrote one user. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

Heyer entered the debate two videos shared on Tiktok

The TikToker shared two videos last week as the debate grew.

“Some of you are acting like I went into your house personally and burned your grandmother’s wedding dress,” Heyer said in one of her replies. “Or I could take the original Betsy Ross flag and turn it into a Y2K crop top for Coachella.”

She added, “You’re all upset about a dress you didn’t know existed until 24 hours ago.”

In a separate video, Heyer clarified her take on revamping vintage dresses, saying it’s on a case-by-case basis.

“When it comes to altering vintage, look at how it was made, what fabric was used, and when it was made,” Heyer said. “And then the answers to those questions will determine whether or not it’s okay to completely revamp a vintage garment.”

Heyer told Insider that she found the response “hilarious” but also a little “scary.”

While she loves her dress, noting that the billowing skirt and hand-sewn beading are standout features, Heyer said the reaction was both “hilarious” and “scary.”

“However, there comes a point where something becomes so viral that it completely leaves the hands of the creator, and that felt scary,” Heyer said, adding, “The small digital footprint I left became sudden.” so much bigger and that really hit me. ”

Kelley Heyer transformed a 1970s dress into a birthday dress.

Side-by-side screenshots show how Kelley Heyer’s clothing has changed.

Kelley Heyer/TikTok

Heyer told Insider that online users were quick to judge without realizing her passion for sustainable fashion.

“People online will never know the nuances behind every story. That’s just the nature of the internet. You can only fit so much into a one-minute video,” she said. “Vintage and sustainable fashion are a big passion of mine, but the commentators don’t know that.”

Ultimately, Heyer is proud of her work and is undeterred by the criticism.

“It’s okay if you don’t like it because luckily it’s in my closet, not yours,” she said.

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