Op Shopping: My new hobby

Op shopping or thrifting has finally become fashionable and I am here for it

Ian Galliguez

1/21/20230 min read

I have never kept it a secret that I absolutely love going to ukay-ukay and/or thrift stores. There's something about the thrill of the hunt that just makes me feel so alive! Call it an urban woman's treasure hunt or whatever but one cannot deny the absolute joy in finding an almost mint Kate Spade bag in dusty corner. It's an unexplainable rush. Those who know, just know.

For a while, buying anything second hand meant that you were either on a lower section of the economic scale or that you were just not classy or as the kids these days say, you are cringe. Cringe or not, being one that really did not care about what other people say and yes, at that time, I was not in any economic level that can boast about crap, so the best way to get "new" clothes and outfits were to go to the ukay-ukay. Back then, Cubao was the mecca. Rows and rows of tightly packed clothes hanging on a flimsy makeshift clothes rack compose of metal pipes were ready for you to scour and dig through. Well-worn shoes and boots paraded themselves on shelves that looked like it needed either a good disinfecting or fire. It was heaven for us. We found trench coats for 150 pesos, to fulfill our Christian Slater role play fantasies. Who cares if the country we were living in was not suited for a trench coat? It was for 150 pesos and it made us feel and look cool, beads of sweat be damned.

When I got to Australia, I was introduced to their version of Ukay, the Op Shops, and to be completely honest, I think I may cried a little bit when I entered one for the first time. It's like an upscale version of the one in the Philippines. Clothes are color coded and categorized (dresses, tops, shorts, skirts, etc) There were shoes, toys, books, bags and even vintage fabric and yarn! On my first trip back, I bought several bags that were either in almost mint condition or needed a few minor repairs and cleaning. Nothing too complicated that I can't do, although I just admit that I did paint and dye some of the ones I got previously.

Where and why do I shop? I toyed with the idea of gatekeeping my favorite shops but then I also thought that this new support and love for thrifting and buying second hand is something I truly support. I shop for the following reasons:

  1. Because it is economical. I am not going to pay 15k pesos for a branded t-shirt. That's really impractical. I do get lucky and find branded items that are still in very good condition but most of the stuff I buy are non branded. I buy them because I like the fit, color or the style.

  2. It reduces waste. We all know this. I have severe guilt when I buy anything new or off the rack because I think about the waste and carbon footprint that this one outfit has and I just can't. Buying thrift or pre-loved or second hand means that I curtail creating new waste.

  3. It has character and a story. I may not know the story behind every piece I purchase but I am comforted with the thought that this was bought and used by someone. It may even be someone's favorite and then now it could be my new favorite! Think Andy's toys in toy story but with clothes, bags and shoes.

Where do I shop? I have a few favorite places but I am always up for suggestions and recommendations. In the Philippines, my favorite places are Makati Central Square for dresses and coats or jackets. There is also this place called Garzie along Alabang-Zapote road, in front of Robinson's Place Las Pinas. they have really good branded stuff that are in excellent condition. They are a bit pricier though but I would say it's still a good deal. In Australia, the most popular is Vinnies but they have been getting too pricey lately. My favorite is Lifeline Shops, because they do have an excellent cause that I support and they have a better price point. Another one that I have recently discovered is 1-world over at Campbelltown.

In this economy and climate state, purchasing new almost feels unethical. It isn't illegal but it does feel like I am not doing my part for the planet. I highly encourage everyone to go buy second hand and go thrifting!