A few years back, wearing secondhand clothes or someone else’s hand-me-downs seem like a jail sentence to the fashion-conscious. The stigma being that thrifting was only for those who couldn’t afford new clothes and in that era of wealth & celebrity, who wanted to admit they couldn’t keep up with the fashion world’s constant cycle of new trends? However, our world is increasingly more environmentally conscious, thrifting has become the current fashion trend of today’s generation.
Gone were the days of weekend pilgrimages to fast fashion stores such as H&M, Topshop or Forever 21, now the current youth prefer to scavenge amidst piles of secondhand clothes to stumble upon that one of a kind vintage gem that those same stores try hard to emulate but never coming close to the real thing. If you’re a Malaysian wanting to hop on this bandwagon of reusable fashion, you’re in luck as in KL itself, there are multiple thrift stores for you to check out, depending on what you’re looking for.
1. For the environmentally-conscious modern fashionista
If you shudder at the idea of shoulder pads or anything your mother would have done as a young adult, thrifting probably seems like the worst nightmare for you. If you can’t bear the thought of wearing something old-fashioned, Refash at Sungei Wang Plaza will be the redeeming place for all those times you had to pick up a bright pink blazer with shoulder pads to the heavens.
Unlike other thrift shops in KL, Refash has strict requirements when it comes to the clothes they accept. They only accept clothes in good condition, in style and good quality. The in style requirement is perfect for those who want to embrace the vintage trend without really looking the part as it ensures each piece of clothing are current styles that have been present in the malls within the last few years or so.
2. For the one looking for a good bargain
Thrifting can be surprisingly expensive, especially when it pertains branded items which can be resold for 3x the price! But not all of us are actively seeking for branded items, instead just wanting the bragging right of being able to say “You won’t believe how much I got this for…”
If that’s your wish, head on over to Shahrin’s Bundle located at Jalan Raja Bot, Chow Kit to grant it. With piles of clothing being sold at the front of the store for only RM1 each, the effort to dig through it just to find something unique AND at such a low cost will only provide a cooler backstory to your vintage finds.
3. For the Pasar Malam experience
And located nearby Shahrin’s Bundle is Jalan Raja Bot. Akin to a typical pasar malam, vendors neatly display their goods on mats for customers to survey with ease. But don’t let the pasar malam aesthetic fool you as most of the goods displayed are usually rare & branded pieces that has been carefully curated to the vendor’s specific taste. As expected, these pieces will cost you a higher price but don’t hesitate to negotiate until you reach a desired price that both reasonable for you and the vendor. Starting their operations late at night, this market only opens on the weekend, so grab a few of your friends and shop until the wee hours.
4. For more than clothes
Jalan Jalan Japan
When you Google “thrift shops KL”, most likely JBR Bundle (either at Shah Alam, Bandar Sri Damansara or Cheras) and Jalan Jalan Japan (One City, Subang Jaya) will be the top results guaranteed but apart from selling apparels, did you know these stores have a wide variety of items such as secondhand toys, household items, stationery, sporting equipment and even bicycles for sale? Our carbon footprint does not only involve clothing but also daily items so while you’re upgrading your wardrobe, why not take a look at what other goods Family Bundle and Jalan Jalan Japan have in store? If the sound of buying used toys or cutlery sound icky to you, some of these items are still brand new but were just donated from stores which closed down or just needed to get rid of dead stock. Not forgetting, their clothing selection is one of the biggest to choose from so go on a day where you have many hours to spend.
5. For the one who wants to do a good deed
Apart from just saving the environment, you can contribute to a cause by heading to a nearby charity shop today! Unlike the majority of thrift shops in KL, charity shops donate a portion of your spent money to notable causes instead of pocketing 100% of the profits to themselves. One of the more notable ones I’ve seen is the BLESS Shop which hires single mothers, Orang Asli and ex-drug rehab patients as staff members as a chance for them to earn a fair living. Additionally, for every RM10 collected, RM3.50 goes to about 1000 Myammar refugee children for either meals or school supplies. Usually located in shopping malls, I’ve seen an outlet at One Utama, Midvalley, Sunway Mas Community Centre and Citta Mall, all retaining a middle-class clientele so you might be lucky enough to pick up a designer good for a very low price. And just like Family Bundle and Jalan Jalan Japan, BLESS Shops usually have other items for sale such as books and household items which also come from closing down stores.
There you have it, the best thrift shops in KL alongside their specific strong suits. We at The Cool Bears hope this eco-friendly trend will continue as the previous years of fast fashion has made our world seen an excessive surplus of clothing which is typically worn once then thrown away. As climate change becomes more critical, we should all keep track of any wasteful habits we might have picked up without even realizing. Also, while you go on these thrifting adventures, make a point to donate any of your old clothes or items to these places. This further adds to the cycle of reducing wastage which sequentially saves our home planet.