Shaira Luna, Promil kid-turned-celebrated photographer behind countless editorials and campaigns, is definitely not basic. In terms of style, that is. “I have slowly but successfully managed to ease myself out of the all-black and neutral phase I was in half a decade ago. I don’t mind dressing like a dandy one day, or like a Brady sibling on another. I think my style’s a little playful, while not being loud or totally out there.”
Shaira, once a child prodigy who declares that being behind the lens was never even on her list of possible careers (something along the lines of biologist or doctor, more like), is an ukay queen. Brimming with tips and tricks for ultra-effective thrift shopping, Shaira believes that the only way to get the most unique pieces is by ever so patiently rifling through the racks of an ukay-ukay. She cites Florence Welch as her ultimate style inspiration, and a mirror of her own quirky, mix-and-match aesthetic: “I love how she’s witchy, and sweet, and rock and roll, and eccentric at the same time. If only I had her height!”
As for photography inspirations, Shaira admits to being much less specific. “I tend to lend myself to many different genres. I think it’s because I take inspiration from so many things: music, art, fashion and history. Lately, my personal work has been looking a lot like my grandmother’s old photo albums.” Much like old photographs, the clothes found in thrift shops scattered across the metro carry a history of their own—precisely why Shaira prefers ukays to regular stores.
Despite her zeal for thrift shopping, she is quick to point out that work easily dictates her choice of wardrobe. “Even when going for a certain theme, I gravitate toward things that are sensible and comfortable. I style 90 percent of my personal work and really hoard clothes for this purpose!” Truth is, if anyone ever had a good reason to thrift shop ’til she drops, Shaira’s got it.
Shaira's Ukay-Ukay Shopping Tips:
1. Walk in with only a small purse or crossbody satchel. You will need full use of your limbs!
2. Allot at least 30 minutes to an hour to do your shopping. Any less and you’ll leave feeling flustered and frustrated because there are lots of clothes to go through.
3. I generally avoid going into an ukay when the sign outside says “new arrivals.” You get a better deal waiting for the markdowns, which happen every few days or weeks.
4. In case you do go into the new arrivals section and see something you like, buy it. It will most likely be gone by the time you return!
5. When you visit a place with signs that say 70 percent off, set a budget. It’s very easy to go overboard! Sacks of clothes are way harder to carry than you think!
*This article originally appeared in Preview Magazine's October 2015 issue.