Running my fingers through the dusty mildew-ridden garments at an empty night market – it was a Saturday night. The breeze of the seaside town didn’t weather off my sweaty upper lip and I was losing hope. Then, I found the love of my life. She looked like she was from the ’80s. I slapped myself for assuming its gender. Clad in an abstract floral print, it was like someting I pulled out of one of my dreams. In shades of dull purples, greens and a hint of amber. We locked eyes and I took it off the rails to the man in the front. He said, “Lima belas ringgit (fifteen ringgit)”. I reached into my wallet to pay the man and the rest is history. Adventures I’ve been on, aplenty with my trusty bomber jacket and here I am to share my story.
If you haven’t already guessed what I’m going to be talking about, I suggest you read the title once more. If not, here’s an explanation hot off Google’s search engines:
Make that noun a verb and you have thrifting – the act of buying old, used items that are dirt cheap (most of the time). I’ve always wanted to know what thrift shops were like as a child. I used to watch Westernised versions of the activity that I now indulge in so strongly. Malaysian thrift stores – often called bundles – are gems that you find in the strangest places. Filled with clothes from all over the world that sometimes smell like they’ve been worn by the dead – it’s great!
So, why the heck should you start thrift shopping?
Before I get into the ethical bit (yes, disclaimer), shopping in thrift shops do a lot for your wallet. Though not as comfortable and as organised as your local H&M, looking through racks of miscellaneous garments from the 1980s to the early 2000s is entertaining in itself. You meet trends and start to wonder, “Why was there a point where this was socially acceptable?”
Then there’s the good stuff.
With streetwear in full force as of late and hypebeasts roaming about the Earth, the sudden popularity of streetwear labels like Stüssy and Champion is no surprise. Thrift shopping gives you the opportunity to look for vintage items from your favourite brands. Though authenticity may be in question when buying vintage streetwear, no one can really tell if you wear it the right way. Apart from that, the chances of you wearing the same skirt as your coursemate is highly unlikely.
Going to bundles and charity shops also allow you to help contribute to saving the Earth in so many ways. Wearing old, used clothes means you’re not contributing to the capitalist high street fashion companies that are more unethical than you think. What with the mass manufacturing of clothing, resources are wasted and not to mention, the lack of human rights for factory workers. Yes, when you buy from big brands you’re contributing to child labour. Children from third world countries often fall victim to this and are underpaid and overworked. These kids are also subject to sexual exploitation by their employers.
So, where can you find good thrift stores?
Thrift stores are in abundance in Kuala Lumpur and even around Kajang. You just have to do your research and be willing to look through tonnes of clothing till you find the love of your life like I did mine.
However, if you’re lazy and can’t be bothered to look them up yourself, here’s a list of a few of my favourite stores:
The Unnamed Bundle in Semenyih Town
This quaint store comes with no signboard. Located right next to the Nasi Lemak Kelate restaurant, it is run by an old Malay man who seems to think I’m buying clothes for my brothers (in which I have none). I absolutely love this store and have gotten jackets (RM10), trackies (RM10) and even a Dickies jumpsuit (RM30). The store is quite small and predominantly stocked with menswear but why put a gender on clothing am I right?
The Bless Shop, 1 Utama Shopping Centre
Go down the escalator opposite The Body Shop in the mall and you’ll find a tiny little shop full of donated items. The Bless Shop is a charity store full of clothes, bags and shoes that go for pretty decent prices. You can also find books and children’s toys here. Plus, if you’re decluttering your wardrobe, you can also drop your clothes off here and give yourself a pat on the back. This is also one of the more comfortable (air-conditioned) shops I’ve been to for thrift shopping.
Location: 1 Utama Shopping Centre, LG126
Ampang Family Bundle
Located in Ampang as the name blatantly tells you, this shop is so big you can spend hours just looking through every single rack. From kids clothes to women’s lingerie (I suggest you stay far away from that section, used underwear is not something I recommend unless you’d like to contract an STD), the variety is definitely a big plus about this bundle. However, in terms of price, it’s not the best but if you’re a good haggler, use that in your favour.
Address: No 18 & 18-1, Jalan AWF 1, Ampang Waterfront, 68000 Ampang, Selangor
And as I come to the end of the list and of my article as a whole, I hope I’ve been able to convince you to start thrift shopping. If not, I shall let the clothes speak for themselves.
This is the love of my life, purchased from a bundle located in a night market in Port Dickson. If you Waze to Tino’s Pizza in Port Dickson, you’ll find the market.
Found these green Fila trackies (which are probably fake) at the unnamed bundle in Semenyih. Although they have “Shānkǒu” written on the front of the pants, the material is great and they look like something you’d find at JD Sports.
The skirt was from The Bless Shop in 1 Utama and this has been my favourite outfit of 2018 so far. The skirt’s quality is pretty amazing.
Price: RM2.50 (During CNY sale)
Another buy from The Bless Shop was this skirt that I absolutely adore. Giving off modest school girl vibes and a tinge of Burberry, what’s not to love?
Photographed by Malik Hisyam
Written by Jane-Menn Cheong