Since 2005, I started going to ukay ukay places almost every other week and hunt for one-of-a-kind-pieces. I remember my mom introducing me to a few pieces she got from the thrift shop she went to in Pasig. She wanted me to be frugal because I started working in Makati back then and my corporate job requires me to wear pencil skirts and blazers. A brand new blazer back then from a local department store would cost around at least 1,200php comparing to these pieces that she got that only ranked up to as low as 50php per jacket. I was reluctant at first because I was thinking that nobody would want to 2nd hand clothing and not to mention a few hygiene concerns. Then again after we washed these blazers, they looked mighty fine (also, no skin reaction from using too much detergents)
The Fat Girls Day Out team will understudy the culture of shopping in an ukay-ukay.
- “ukay-ukay” – Tagalog: hukay, wagwag, Eng: To Dig Up
This frugal b-culture is more than just fashion, but rather a lifestyle. This content is not to gentrify thrift shops, but rather share a few insights and point you out where to get good pieces around the metro.
Backtracking its roots
An interesting study from Rina Locsin back in the mid-2000s. She tells that, it can be traced back early 80’s, but exact dates are yet to be determined. The Salvation Army shops channeled their goods here in the country, oral accounts also point to NGOs, and other organizations who started selling donated and tax-free used clothing to raise funds for an activity.
The author states that this period after the second world war overlapped with the time the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) donated billions of dollars in value of relief to Asia, which was around the 1940’s.
Ukay Ukay is Ukay Ukay
Ukay-ukay culture having being rebranded because of this surge of online sellers. They style and flat lay clothes to appeal to the middle-class and jerk up the prices by at least 5-10 times the store price. You will see others pre-curating their items and naming themselves seller of “Class A” vintage items. I say, NAY. Stop browsing your online selling apps or even your Facebook Marketplace pages.
Mapping Out Where the best ukay ukay locations
There are so many thirft clothing stores peppered around already, but we’d like to share the best and OG places wheere you can score solid and bargain deals.
1. Cubao City
This city is our usual go-to location to quest for good vintage band shirt finds. Numerous stores may be found near LRT stations and its all connected with one another. The best part about Cubao ukay-ukay stores is that they can go as vast as having a 2nd or 3rd floor to display their items. Score not just clothes and other fashion accessories, but also vintage toys! Thrift shopping in Cubao is really a conquest, so expect to work your way through the crowd, the dust, and humidity.
Never miss: Anonas Ukay Ukay
Photos from Mean Living PH
How to get there: Take the LRT 2 and drop off at Anonas Station. The exit will lead you to the mall itself.
2. Star Mall in Alabang
Never miss: Magarbo is a popular ukay-ukay store in Alabang, their pieces can retail from P100 a piece to 4 for P100. Browse through their items at the basement level of Starmall.
3. Makati Cinema Square
The Makati Cinema Square is known as the BEST spot for ukay-ukay shopping in Makati. Numerous options contained in one complex. It’s pretty comfortable in this area as all of the shops are airconditioned.
Never miss: 3j Riza’s RTW Shop at the entrance of the mall. This ukay ukay has very good prices.
How to get there: From Gil Puyat LRT Station, ride a jeepney to PRC and get off at Chino Roces Ave. Ride another jeepney bound for Don Bosco and drop off at Makati Cinema Square.
4. Tagaytay City
When in Tagaytay City, after you’ve bought all your Rowena’s buko tarts perhaps it might also interest you that Tagaytay has the biggest ukay-ukay store in the south.
Nevermiss: Ukay Ukay Hub along Aguinaldo Highway (in front of the new Fora Mall and Andok’s). Looks pretty small from the outside, but wait til’ you enter. It has 3 levels of neatly portioned clusters.
Photo credit: Ukay-Ukay Hub Tagaytay
5. Carriedo Street, Quiapo
The OG of ukay-ukays, check out stores around Carriedo Street in Quiapo offers items for as low as P5. The place is near Quiapo church.
How to get there: From Carriedo LRT Station, walk to SM Clearance outlet near Quiapo church and find the ukay-ukay store.
6. Pasay City
This city is the best place to scour ukay finds because prices become cheaper every week until all goods are sold. There are roughly 8 shops around this intersection of Edsa and Taft also known as Pasay Rotonda.
Never miss: Ukay-Ukay Wagwagan branch in Pasay Rotonda is strategically located along the MRT and LRT Taft stations. Score items for as low as 10php-15php!
How to get there: Take the MRT or LRT 1 and drop off at Pasay Taft.
Pro Tip: Arm yourself with a bottle of water, some wipes, and alcohol, and an extra t-shirt. Ask when their next batch of arrivals come in (some might have a text “mailing list” or they’d just give you a mobile number)
Why I Still Go to Thrift Shops?
Now that I’m 34 years old, I still visit my favorite thrift shops to score unique band shirts from time to time. More often than being frugal, I like finding things that are amazing and one of a kind- it is the habit that my mother passed on to me.
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