A couple that thrifts together, stays together. Or so they say. Power couple Zamir Alif and Shakira Idora (featured in this year’s Ramadan campaign) don’t just thrift; they’re the owners of OKGO Store, a boutique thrift store that stocks bundles of stylish vintage and pre-loved items in all sorts of colours and styles. Inspired by Japan’s thrift shop scene, OKGO Store may be in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, but would fit right in on the hip streets of Tokyo. Read on as the couple discuss their love of vintage, and how you too can start thrifting—with a little help from Zamir and Shakira.
Tell us about the OKGO Store journey.
Shakira: We really love to thrift, so we decided to create something. But it actually started with us selling our stuff because we wanted to move out of our house. From there, it grew from a two-day event to a week, then a month. Then we decided, “Why don’t we trythis for a year?” Thrift culture was becoming big and the business grew.
Zamir: We’ve stocked lots of vintage Levi’s® collections.
S: When we find a Levi’s® piece, we always try it on first. That’s the perk of becoming a thrift store owner. You always get first dibs.
Z: We try not to take all of it, like if it’s not in our size...
What are your most prized possessions?
Z: We’re actually obsessed with Levi’s®; I have a ‘70s Levi’s® Orange Tab jacket and a pair of ‘70s Levi’s® jeans. Shakira’s wearing a vintage Orange Tab jacket from the early ‘80s. It’s special because they don’t make it anymore today. I’m wearing brown Levi’s® ’80s 505™. If I’m not mistaken, they made earth-coloured washes up until the ‘90s. But I know for sure that you can’t get this colour today.
We want to hear more about your Levi’s® Orange Tabs
S: Mine are 505™ Straight. I love 501® but I can’t wear them because my hips are too big.
Z: I have 501® and 505™s. I like 501® because I have small thighs so they fit nicely. Both items are made in the USA, both from the ‘80s, maybe one from the ‘90s. Levi’s® from the year 2000 and before have really great material. It’s thick but also soft because it’s 20 years older. So that’s what makes vintage great.
How would you style vintage denim?
S: I always pair it with oversized T-shirts and accessories. I always choose comfort over anything but to make it more stylish, I’ll accessorize. Big T-shirts are the best.
Z: I like to tuck my shirt into my jeans. Keep it simple with not too many layers. Like you can tuck in a white shirt into your favourite blue jeans.
How do you make thrifted clothes work for you?
S: I will alter it if it’s too big. But Zamir always finds the perfect fit.
Z: At OKGO, we do lots of customization. Recently during the lockdown, we had the time to do sashiko stitching. For now, we mostly do acid wash.
S: Sometimes the clothes are in good condition aside for some mild discolouration.
Z: We didn’t want to donate them because they have good designs. So we did acid wash. It’s the same thing with jeans; sometimes they have small holes so we sashiko them.
Do you see a shift to thrift in the mindsets of consumers?
S: It’s evolving. Our customers now shop for thrifted clothes for festive seasons instead of buying an all new wardrobe just for the sake of it. Parents are now buying their kids secondhand clothes.
Z: As store owners, we focus on quality and not just style. Parents don’t really get vintage, but they understand quality. Maybe that is a good indicator.
What does buying better mean to you?
Z: We’ll always like buying secondhand. But we still buy new stuff, we don’t go 100% secondhand because there are some things you can’t get.
S: But we’ll try to shop from local stores first.
Z: Personally, I won’t buy secondhand shoes. You can’t get everything thrifted, you can’t get everything new. We believe in balance.