What if I told you that some of the best clothes you see on your favourite style bloggers are gotten from thrift store, a.k.a “bend-down-select” ?
Yes, I said that. Think about it. Collections upon collections are rolled out every time by our most loved fashion brands. Both luxury/high end and fast fashion brands. Even the best fashion enthusiasts and shoppers are overwhelmed by how often they have to purchase new items to keep up. A lot of those clothes get shipped down here as “Okrika”. Now, let me shock you. Some of them are cleaned up and sold in your regular ‘boutiques.’
So if the idea of thrift shopping still fills with horrid images of people shoving against each other, it’s time to shift that perspective. Because honestly, you can get around to shopping from the thrift store and rocking your pieces so well, they’ll never guess it did not come straight out of an online shopping cart.
So, I’m sharing the good news and listing a few tips and tricks of shopping in Nigeria.
Know the grades
A wise man once said, “Shoe get size, Okrika get quality”. Have truer words ever been spoken? Like I mentioned earlier, you can find brand new items in the thrift market. This generally depends on the market you decide to patronize. In summary, Yaba is a mix of everything. At the popular Tejuosho market, you will find the best grade outfits at reasonable prices. Not the best prices compared to actual thrift markets, but it is comfortable. Inside the main market, however, the grades may be lower but the prices will plummet and you can finda really great piece.
My favourite jeans of all time, a vintage Levi’s 501 was picked up on one of those Yaba trips and I do not regret the hassle I went through for it.
Other spots you can shop are; Obalende, (for great bags and shoes), Ojuelegba (for thrifted, old magazines), Katangwa (this one might be a tad bit overwhelming), Aswani (I bet you will find items as low as 50 Naira)
Come dressed to shop
You are going to a thrift market and so you have to look the part. Wear comfortable clothing, preferably leggings and a shirt. This will help you move around quicker. It will also ensure you are able to test out a few clothes without taking yours off. Carry a fanny pack or a clutch that is easy to keep an eye on.
Be patient and have a good eye
Thrifting requires a whole lot of patience. You may have to rummage through a whole lot of seemingly useless stuff to find one gem. I like to thrift shop alone. But if I am probably going to an unfamiliar market I have to go with a friend, I choose one that can also be really patient.
You also have to have a good eye, that is, look beyond the items as just singular pieces and look for ways you can style them to suit different purposes. However, do not be afraid to walk away to another store if you don’t find something you fancy.
Flex your bargaining skills
Because an item’s first calling price is 1000 Naira does not mean it can’t go lower. Don’t be shy to bargain and you could just end up with a good deal.
Look for labels. And look carefully
I know I have had a good thrift day when I score a few pieces from my favourite brands. Boohoo, Prettylittlething, Dorothy Perkins, Zara Woman, River Island, Victoria’s Secret are a few labels I have come across. I Ike to go for those labels because they may be more durable than ordinary no-name brands. Also, if you are thrifting from the not-so-new section, check for stains, tears, washed colour etc. Always be on the lookout for any flaws you can’t fix. And the hassle of fixing isn’t worth it, don’t buy it.
Thrift shop online
If you’re an absolute, die-hard big girl (or guy) that won’t be caught dead in a thrift market, you still have an option! Thrift shopping has gotten so popular that you can scroll through items on an online thrift shop (website or Instagram) and find great pieces. It will not be as cheap as you would have gotten it on the streets, but it is very convenient.
Thrift shopping can be a great way to find amazing pieces while reducing the number of clothes that end up in landfills. So, you’re feeding your fashion cravings and saving the environment at the same time. Win-win!