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Nov 7, 2017
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Ever find the perfect item while hunting at an ukay? For Carlos Bariuan, the find was a perfect vintage Tommy Hilfiger sweater. He loved it, but it was such a grail item that he decided to see what he could flip it for in a Facebook buy-and-sell group—and that's how he more than tripled his money. Seeing the potential in thrifting, he started Publicize, a fashion business which specializes in reworking '90s nostalgia pieces. It's probably an easy gain idea that some of us have had, but these two entrepreneurial cousins actually did it and now we're jealous.

When did Publicize start?

Carlos: March. But I started thrifting in December 2016. I started thrifting because the cost is cheap compared to buying at the mall. Tapos siguro sa style ko, gusto ko yung di nakikita basta-basta.

And you told us about your super sale, was that the motivation to do it as work?

C: Yes, naisip ko if I can make my twenty pesos a thousand, then if may one thousand ka, pwede maging ten thousand di'ba? May mga inspiration din kami, like Paul Cantu and Sean Wotherspoon of Round Two. May community sa Facebook [locally] pero hindi siya ma-vintage—ako lang ata nag-start nun.

Mark Lhorenz Castillo, cousin and co-founder: Inspiration namin sa thrift is manood sa Youtube.

Do you have a squad of pickers?

C: Dalawa lang kaming nag-ti-thrift pero may team kami—si Morris and Rainer, photographers namin.

Tell us all about the process of thrifting.

M: Talagang halungkat kami. Ngayon, regular namin nakukuha [in one day is] mga 40 to 50 pieces. Once a week lang kami.

C: Bumabiyahe kami ng madaling araw, 2AM to 3AM, from Metro Manila to Baguio para dating namin umaga mga 9AM. Dun yung main namin. Dati within Metro Manila lang kami pero sobrang layo ng mga thrift shop, and mahirap kumita ng malaking pera kasi mahal benta nila. Baguio is not really a secret, pero nonetheless kung pumunta ako ngayon, di na mahahanap ng susunod mga nabili ko.

Do you wash the goods?

C: May mga pieces na kailangan linisan, pero meron din na hindi dahil sa pagka-rare at preserved ng items. Dapat si buyer na, kasi kunyari binili niya tapos winash ko baka masira diba—like yung nabenta namin na YSL, sobrang taas, P6,500. Galing siya sa kaibigan ko sa Baguio, si Sherwood, Nakilala ko siya and aligned naman interests namin, and there were pieces na nakatambak lang sa bahay niya. Nakakita kami ng hindi talaga mahanap ever. So parang consignment namin yun.

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Not bad, would you say you could live off Publicize?

M: Kaya naman, ha ha!

C: [Nakaabot kami ng] High five digits [in one collection]. 4-5 digits din yung cost—pero mababang five, ha ha! The key is being consistent. Parang nag-gamble din kami since di rin namin alam kung hanggang saan yung market ng ginagawa namin. Pero shirts naman kasi di siya nalalaos agad agad, essential needs yan.

How do you define this vintage look that's in style nowadays?

C: Yung mga hinahanap namin, yun yung mga gusto ng mga '90s kids. Yung sinusuot ng titas and titos natin and now ginagaya natin. Pero we add some spice, kunyari naka-vintage ka pero cap mo Supreme. Mix siya.

How long do you think it'll last?

C: Feeling ko magtatagal pa. Like sa inspiration namin na Round Two, bumibili si Travis Scott, A$ap Rocky, Kylie Jenner, etc. Matagal kami malalaos kasi marami parin makaka-miss ng vintage.

Any haters since you're flipping “cheap” stuff for a whole lot?

C: Wala pa naman. Pero ang sabi nila, kadalasan mga customer namin, sobrang affordable daw ng prices. From P600 to P1,000 lang kasi, makakabili na sila. [Sa competition naman] Mahirap i-compete ang ginagawa namin, kasi malaki talaga collection namin. Sa ibang shop, 10 to 20 items tapos di pa lahat hype. Kami when we pick, yung 50 namin we guarantee is yun yung gusto ni customer.

You also sell a lot of “bootleg” gear, why is it cool while everyone hates fake?

C: Sa mga ganun kasi—pag fake—di rin sila knowledgeable. They know na fake, pero di nila alam ganun ang impact sa tingin ng ibang tao. Tayo naman, kunyari middle class, we would wear F21, Uniqlo, H&M—pero these are rip-offs too, in my opinion. Ginaya lang din, and to those people na mas mataas sa'tin, tayo naman ang parang hypebeast [na naka-fake]. May cycle, so kaya ayoko magbash—sana lang imbes na buying fake products, bili nalang sila local products.

M: Pag bootleg naman, it's considered as orignal kasi wala na ang nag-pro-produce. And like si Gucci, may mga bootleg design na kinuha na din nila. In-adopt sa totoo. Yung fake kasi kinopya, but bootlegs are not, may sarili silang design. Like sa bootleg na Tommy Hilfiger—may details din, [fine] embroidery, may sariling art sa bootleg.

Check out some of Publicize's ukay items below:

Photography RG Medestomas

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