Faces of Cebu Life!

FACES OF CEBU: Etienne Chantal, 29, social media influencer, thrift shopper


CEBU CITY, Philippines— What comes to your mind when you hear those words ‘thrift shopping?’

Cheap clothes? Dead people’s clothes? Or fun and trendy clothes?

Etienne Chantal, a social media influencer in Cebu, is giving thrift shopping a new look that can make you want to go thrift shopping soon.

Chantal, 29 is a proud thrift shopper.

Etienne Chantal

One of the many styles of Etienne Chantal. | contributed photo

She has been in the social media industry for more than a decade, starting with Lookbook days and Tumblr.

This influencer has been seen sporting monochromatic looks and has elevated her fashion style over the years.


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But little did we know that most of her OOTDs are from her “ukay-ukay” haul.

Etienne Chantal: Her beginnings

In her college years, she was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to wear school uniforms. The course she took in a Cebu university didn’t require her to wear a uniform.

This paved the way for this creative to play and get her style slowly.

“We didn’t have to wear a uniform in college, so in the age of Lookbook, blogs, and Tumblr, I found the opportunity to always dress up and also platforms where I can share it,” she said.

As a person who has already been into fashion, this was her way of getting into the social media realm during its earlier days.

“I’ve always been into fashion and always loved sharing bits of my life on the internet even when I only had 72 views on my blog post,” she added.

Etienne Chantal

Etienne Chantal. | contributed photo

Looking at her following now, Etienne is glad she took that leap.


A couple of years back when social media was relatively an alien idea to some, Etienne managed to find her way to be present online.

Staying present and visible online was not a challenge for her, but to find her style to share on her platforms was.

“I guess the only challenge for me before and even until now is finding my style and how I’m presenting myself to the world. I found a lot of things interesting but it just doesn’t feel authentic for me to do some things, or wear a certain style, or be a certain kind of person,” she said.

Finding her niche

With her love for fashion and the influence of her mother about thrift shopping growing up, she slowly found something she is truly passionate about and would want everyone to see thrift shopping in the same light she sees it.

“I remember her coming home and saying “nangukay mi ni (friend’s name)! tan-awa! P50 ra ni!” it was a relatively new concept for me because when I was young, I thought shopping could only be done in malls,” said Etienne.

Many years later, here she is, giving thrift shopping a new look by sharing her “ukay-ukay” looks with her thousands of followers on Instagram and other social media platforms.

Misconception on ‘ukay-ukay’

Some would say these clothes came from old people, stolen clothes, or worse, dead people that’s why these pieces are being sold at cheaper prices.

While others would say these are unused clothes or donated clothes from other countries.

But that does not bother Etienne, as she sees these pieces as her way of expressing herself through fashion— her style.

“It’s weird when people say it’s “dead people’s pre-loved clothes” or that it’s weird to wear secondhand clothes. Doesn’t it give you joy when you rummage through your grandparent’s things? It’s the same thing, isn’t it?” she jokes.

Etienne Chantal Cebu

Ukay-ukay through Etienne Chantal’s eyes

Ukay-ukay has been her love language as she would put it.

Going thrift shopping has been her go-to whenever she feels like she needs to get some creative juices out or she sees a peg she can put her own style with to create content.

“Thrift shopping has become my love language.  It’s just enjoyable for me. thrifting isn’t always cheap, but the feeling you get when you find something you like is priceless. sometimes, if maka kita kog piece that I know a friend or loved one will like, I buy it for them,” she shares.

While others see thrift shopping as a cheap way of getting dressed. She sees it as an avenue to express herself.

“The most beautiful thing about thrifting is that it allows for self-expression. Unlike retail stores, which tend to stock items based solely on current trends, thrifting offers a diverse array of styles, allowing us to find pieces that uniquely reflect our personal taste and preferences,” said Etienne.

With this, Etienne is now taking another leap in turning thrift shopping into something more interesting here in Cebu.

She is now in the works of making her own curated thrift shop called “ET AL.”

Thrift shopping is basically an opportunity for you to snag a P250 top originally sold over thousands of pesos and get a pair of jeans that would not go beyond P500 and that leather jacket that would give you major “off-duty” model energy on your next trip.

“Thrifting really is “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. We love treasures!” she said.

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