Advocacy Ukay-ukay

Alem Garcia digs used clothing, believes fashion is for everyone

BEING a fashion enthusiast can be tough. One has to invest time and money in clothes, preferably designer brands, and to be up-to-date with the latest fashion trends.

UKAY-UKAY ADVOCATE. Alem Garcia wears an ukay-ukay ensemble from Baguio City and Maguikay, Mandaue City as he poses at the University of the Philippines-Cebu for his blog “Ukay-ukay Diva.” (PHOTO BY THESHA GODOY)
UKAY-UKAY ADVOCATE. Alem Garcia wears an ukay-ukay ensemble from Baguio City and Maguikay, Mandaue City as he poses at the University of the Philippines-Cebu for his blog “Ukay-ukay Diva.” (PHOTO BY THESHA GODOY)

But some have ventured to go against conventional fashion wisdom. Like Alem Garcia, a fourth year Fine Arts in Advertising major of the University of San Carlos, who considers himself as a “practical” fashion enthusiast.

Alem, a neophyte blogger, views fashion as an expensive want and at the same time, need. “Because it is my vision to be practical in all means, I find alternatives to clothing items that are cheap in price without sacrificing quality,” he said. So, to feed his passion for fashion, Alem has figured that “ukay-ukay” is the way to go. And he wears what he preaches in his blog “Ukay-ukay Diva.”

COLOR IT RADICAL. Blogger Alem Garcia says his ukay-ukay diaries often talk about how similar colors can have different meanings. For example, the camouflage could either mean rebellion or conformity. But in wearing this get up, Alem says, “I was inspired to become a soldier and a rebel at the same time.” Alem pursues many of these radical ideas in his blog “Ukay-ukay Diva,” as he takes a fresher look at the ubiquitous ukay-ukay. (PHOTO BY CHRISTYL PELAYO)
COLOR IT RADICAL. Blogger Alem Garcia says his ukay-ukay diaries often talk about how similar colors can have different meanings. For example, the camouflage could either mean rebellion or conformity. But in wearing this get up, Alem says, “I was inspired to become a soldier and a rebel at the same time.” Alem pursues many of these radical ideas in his blog “Ukay-ukay Diva,” as he takes a fresher look at the ubiquitous ukay-ukay. (PHOTO BY CHRISTYL PELAYO)

Fresh look

Derived from the Cebuano word “ukay,” which means dig, ukay-ukay is a variation of second-hand flea markets and traces its roots to Cebu in the 1980s. Alem, though, writes about ukay-ukay culture with a fresher outlook, and with a twist.

It was only in July 2015 when Alem launched Ukay-ukay Diva, a blog showcasing ensembles of ukay-ukay clothing and serves as a venue where Alem shares his innovative fashion ideas using ukay-ukay. Alem, who himself poses as the model in his blog, channels an image of sophistication as he creatively matches ukay-ukay clothes.

By September 2015, Ukay-ukay Diva became part of blogging group Cebu Bloggers Society. Alem’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed: on Oct. 28, his blog became a finalist in the Best Cebu Blogs Awards 2015 under the Best Cebu Fashion Blog category.

Match making

Alem finds conceptualizing ukay-ukay wear to match everyday fashion trends quite challenging. To glam up for social events and gatherings and even in school, Alem, with only a budget of P500 max, heads to ukay-ukay shops to look for dress-up pieces.

He articulates his ideas in fashion by transforming second-hand clothes into an assemblage of classy corporate attires, chic ready-to-wander-the-town look, and stylish native-inspired get-ups. To make this possible, he usually visits his favorite ukay-ukay spots in Maguikay, Mandaue City and Colon, Cebu City. He said these spots offer the best and cheapest clothing finds from tops, jeans, shorts, bags, coats and shoes made from different kinds of imported materials that would satisfy your love for fashion.

“What I like about ukay-ukay is that there is a wide range of choices. The items are one-of-a-kind, they come from different countries, and most of all, cheap,” he said.

RATED CORPORATE. Classy corporate attire ukay-ukay ensemble. (PHOTO BY CHRISTYL PELAYO)
RATED CORPORATE. Classy corporate attire ukay-ukay ensemble. (PHOTO BY CHRISTYL PELAYO)

Fashion lessons

While exploring all those wonderful ukay-ukay shops, Alem has learned a number of lessons from fashion and beyond.

“At the ukay-ukay, I meet a lot of people. I learn how to be street smart and it teaches you to be patient in looking for the best clothes and accessories that suit your style,” he added.

Alem, whom fellow students in school address as “Diva,” never fails to try new things. As an aspiring artist and singer, he once joined the Little Big Star Cebu last 2006. And for the past few years he actively participated in events such as Mister and Miss Talamban Campus, Univercity, and Cebu International Youth Day as ambassador, host, speaker, and even an organizer. He has made the most of his skills in fashion, organizing, writing and even photography, using social media as an effective tool to spread his passion and express his unique ideas, many of which manifest in his blog.

As a fashion enthusiast advocating ukay-ukay culture and fashion, Alem said, “Propagating its practicality sends a message that fashion is for everybody.”

* Thesha Mae B. Godoy is a Second Year BA Mass Communication student of the University of the Philippines Cebu.

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