In the 21st century, fashion has never been more accessible. Massive productions of clothes, or so- called “fast fashion,” is taking over the market in Taipei, but harming the environment at the same time. Big brands might design thousands of styles of clothes a year, while creating problems such as unnecessary waste of materials, packaging waste, or labor exploitation.
With the clothing industry becoming the second biggest in the world when it comes to pollution after petroleum, we need a solution. Yes, suiting up is important, but we can make changes by switching to sustainable fashion! (Or shop locally: Chic Indie-Design Children’s Apparel and Family-Fun in Taipei: Ángeles Studio & Shop)
Sustainable fashion comes in seven forms: tailor- made or DIY, green and clean production processes, high quality and timeless design, selling fairly and ethically-made designs, mended and upcycled clothing, renting and swapping, and finally — second-hand and vintage clothes.
While not everyone can afford custom outfits, and considering the difficulty of doing full product background checks, buying second-hand is the simplest way to practice sustainable fashion in Taipei. It’s eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and can be style- friendly too! Follow TAIPEI on a treasure hunt to three of Taipei’s second-hand shops and markets and find your perfect outfit that looks great on you, and is great for the planet, too. (See also: A brief guide to shopping (and bargaining) in Taipei)
KUANG JEN GREEN FASHION 光仁綠時尚
What is your first impression of a second-hand shop? A dusky and tiny space with goods stacked in high, disorganized piles? Or is it one of products always placed in disorder in narrow aisles? Here at Kuang Jen Green Fashion, it isn’t what you might think. The shop is run by Catholic Kuang Jen Social Welfare Foundation (天主教光仁社會福利基金會), and its fresh appearance is likely to overturn the stereotype of a second-hand store.
Walking into the entrance, the bright space with organized display wardrobes and racks stand on the right. Clothing products are carefully selected from public donations, from men’s polo shirts to women’s one-pieces. Shoe options such as sneakers and heels are also available, and all are cleaned in advance and waiting for their new owners. If lucky, you might find brand-name handbags or purses at half price (or even lower) on sale!
In addition to clothing options, Kuang Jen also sells second-hand appliances, tableware, and kitchenware, giving expats who have relocated to Taipei a budget- friendly place to buy necessities and settle down. From vacuum cleaners, to juicers, ceramic plates, and knife sets, you can find all kinds of lifesavers packed in a load of boxes or displayed on the shelves in Kuang Jen. Flash sales such as buy-one-get-one-free are commonly seen in the shop, but keep in mind that in order to apply the idea of sustainability thoroughly, Kuang Jen does not provide bags for your purchases. Make sure to bring your own! (You may also enjoy: Analog Sounds in Digital Times: Dedicated Record Stores in the Streaming Era)
Moreover, one of the founding purposes of the shop is to provide jobs to those suffering from mental or physical disabilities. If you’d like to support their mission, you can donate your clothes or appliances to Kuang Jen to keep their business running.
|Kuang Jen Green Fashion 光仁綠時尚
🏠 9, Ln. 265, Sec. 2, Heping E. Rd., Daan Dist.
🕑 10:00am – 8:00pm (Closed on Sundays)
LITTLE SPARROW SHOP 小麻雀自助商店
For Japanese fashion lovers, Taipei offers second- hand options for you.Sitting eight minutes away from MRT Gongguan Station, Little Sparrow Shop self-service branch collects many second-hand Japanese brand-name clothing items and accessories. Vintage jackets, jeans and denim overalls can sometimes be found in stock, too.
With all products disinfected before being put on display, Little Sparrow Shop also relies on customers to keep the store tidy. Give them a hand by folding the clothes you inspect but don’t need, or put the shoes you tried on but don’t fit back on the shelf. Little Sparrow Shop is a self-service clothing store with no staff on the spot. Help them, and help yourselves. (If you are around: Gongguan Included in Time Out’s Coolest Neighborhoods of 2020)
Buyers also need to check out by themselves based on the price tags on each outfit they purchase, which is around NT$50 to NT$300 per item. Calculators are available at the counters. After you confirm the amount, cut the price tags and put them into a price tag cup.
Finally, and most importantly, put the exact amount of money into the cash box as change is not available. Monitors and alarm systems are always on in the store, so never leave the shop without completing the checkout process.
|Little Sparrow Shop 小麻雀自助商店
Self-Servicing Branch in Gongguan
🏠 8, Ln. 206, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Wenshan Dist.
🕑 2:30pm – 9:00pm
TIANMU FLEA MARKET 天母生活市集
Garage sales might not be that common in Taipei, but finding a flea market is easy! The best one for treasure hunting has to be the Tianmu Flea Market. Every week from Friday to Sunday, the flea market is held in Tianmu Square (天母廣場) at the Tianmu West Road (天母西路) and Zhongshan North Road (中山北 路) intersection, selling goods ranging from second- hand clothing and life goods to antique furniture.
The stalls at the market are mostly run by locals, piling clothes at their stalls that are priced between NT$50 to NT$200 a piece, on average. Although Tianmu Flea Market was founded originally for selling second-hand products only, you’ll find local artists or small brands stationed at the market recently, selling various designer goods or creative products such as postcards, notebooks, or even cookies.
With Taipei American School and Taipei European School located in Tianmu, the area is known as the home of many expats in Taipei. Thus, unsurprisingly, Tianmu Flea Market, affected by the neighborhood culture, also holds Halloween or Christmas theme days every year. During the holiday weekends, stall owners will decorate their stands to match the theme and dress up to celebrate the holiday with the rest of the neighborhood. Free candies are prepared for trick-or-treaters or sent out by Santa himself. So, don’t forget to swing by the market and have fun during the holiday season!
Furthermore, Tianmu Flea Market is also open to anyone who wants to join in the fun and set up a stall. Advance registration is required. With different people signing up and diverse products in the market each week, treasure hunting is always a blast!
|Tianmu Flea Market 天母生活市集
🏠 1, Tianmu W. Rd., Shilin Dist.
🕑 4:00pm – 10:00pm (Fridays)
9:00am – 3:00pm | 4:00pm – 10:00pm (Saturdays) 3:00pm – 9:00pm (Sundays)
*Stall registration site
Words by: Jamie R. Wood
Photos by: Artem Beliaikin (cover photo), Yi-choon Tang, Taiwan Scene
This article is reproduced under the permission of TAIPEI. Original content can be found at the website of Taipei Travel Net (www.travel.taipei/en).