Metro Manila · Ukay-Ukay - Second-Hand Shopping

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While shopping in the Philippines is relatively cheap for expat standards, many Manilenos would think twice before buying at malls. Many would still prefer buying at secondhand shops, more popularly known as ukay-ukay.

Nobody knows where the concept of ukay-ukay, which means digging through piles of pre-loved clothes, shoes and bags, actually started. One thing is for certain though, UK (shortened name of ukay-ukay) first became popular in Baguio City as far as Manila's urbanites are concerned. There was a time that a vacation in the country's summer capital was never complete without dropping by Session Road to splurge on its numerous ukay-ukay shops. During its early popularity, people could still bargain till kingdom come. Ladies had a thrill buying designer clothes and especially bags like Louis Vuitton for a song, triumphant in the thought that their sellers didn't know any better.  

That was before.  

Nowadays, most ukay-ukay shops, albeit still cheap, have attached tag prices on their wares, know the market value of (most of) their designer items, and no longer allow bargaining. You're lucky if you find a shop that will allow you a further discount on their “regular” items.  

From Baguio, ukay-ukay shops have slowly crept its way into Metro Manila –from Quezon City to Manila and Makati. Makati Square on Pasong Tamo is one of the popular ukay-ukay havens in the city. Shoppers range from students to professionals, fashionistas, stylists, and celebrities.  

Ukay-ukay shops remain a go-to place for not only their prices but also because of their uniqueness. It's normally one style and one size per item. More so, if you are traveling abroad, ukay-ukay shops are the only place where you can buy winter clothes at rock-bottom prices.  

Second-hand clothes had been worn by people you don't know and will never know. To solve this hygiene problem of sorts, patrons of ukay-ukay shops, also known as wagwagan, either boil the clothes first in hot water for a few minutes or just wash the clothes thoroughly before wearing them.

What's the trick in getting the most out of your ukay-ukay shopping experience? Patience. You really have to dig or browse through racks of clothing to find the perfect outfit for say, a date.