Photographer and bona fide ukay queen Shaira Luna models some of our best vintage pieces, while doling out practical tips on ukay/vintage shopping.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do?
My name is Shaira Luna. I'm a photographer.
What's your go-to personal style?
I don't think I have one. Being a photographer and being in the fashion industry, my style has become very playful. Sometimes depending on what I'm shooting that week, I end up being that character... Each shoot is an opportunity for me to play dress up, and play around with the clothes I have. That's what really got me into collecting clothes, because I really enjoy the character part, and the history.
Where do you like to shop for vintage clothes?
The easiest and most convenient place (for me) is Makati square. There are probably 9 different ukay shops in there, so you can just hop from one to another. And the prices can go as low as 25 pesos, if you are lucky enough to find something at the 4 for 100 racks.
(Shaira wears the printed kaftan by Natori)
What do you like about this Natori kaftan?
The first thing I love about it is the print. It's really unexpected. I've shot a lot of her stuff for editorials and magazine features, but I'd never thought that she had something this fun and colorful. It's very similar to a lot of the things I buy at vintage shops abroad... If I'm wearing something this colorful, I'd pick out one color from the print, and match it with the color of my shoes or bags. Today I'm making it more autumn appropriate, by pairing it with a red turtleneck. It gives some structure to this very free-flowing kaftan. And I have knee-high leather boots in a cream color, which I picked from (the color) of those little humans (on the print.) And another thing I like about this kaftan is that it has pockets! Every dress should have pockets. :)
What are some of the details you look for when you look for quality vintage clothes?
I've learned to look for really good fabric. The only way to know for sure is to touch everything. And if you wash them, just observe if they wear well. Over time you'll remember which ones last and which ones don't. And also look at the stitching - it's the same thing with shoes. If the stitches are even and well-placed, and if they are really locked into place, you'll know that the garment will really last a long time.
Any tips on wearing vintage to a formal event?
Throughout the year, I try to find good vintage pieces (suitable for events.) I normally search for "1970's hostess dress" cuz that's what you call them. They are normally long-sleeved flowy dresses with angel sleeves. They are usually very long so that I can wear them with high heels and have the feeling of being formal enough for events. And when I'm not going to anything formal, I can just throw on a cross-body bag and wear it in real life. I've become more comfortable in my own skin and my own style, so I can just show up at any event wearing something way older than me and still have fun with it.
(Floor-length dress by For Love & Lemons, arriving soon)
How about some tips for plus-sized ladies shopping at ukay-ukay?
There are actually sizes for everyone at ukay-ukay! But don't expect everything to fit perfectly. There are always hacks you can find on Youtube, like belting something that's too big, or adding a garter to pants that are too small. You just have to be open and resourceful and really just enjoy the garment that you have in your hands.
On a personal note, why do you like to shop/wear old clothes? We heard that you (almost) never buy new stuff. :)
I first started shopping at ukay-ukay out of necessity, because when I was first starting out as a photographer, I didn't have a lot of money to spend except on equipment. Honestly I just loved the treasure hunt, and I loved wearing clothes that no one else had. But then I realized it's not just about expressing your creativity, but it's also helping reduce your footprint. More people are aware that they have options other than what's available at the malls. I feel like clothes have their own souls, and it's just nice to give them that second lease on life.
(Shaira wears the green button-front vintage dress )