Meet Zoe Gabriel, the Girl Behind the Viral Charles & Keith TikTok Video

Article by Dudez Perez-Ignacio

SG-based Pinay TikToker Zoe Gabriel (@zohtaco)  is here in Manila and I thought I’d show her around.

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Photo by Dudez Perez-Ignacio

Zoe’s dad, Donny Gabriel, photobombing this shot.

Who is Zoe Gabriel?

For those who aren’t caught up, Zoe’s name has been thrown around these days a lot. She has been the topic at various Marites’ sessions. You see news about her shared on different social media platforms. In fact, the topic of luxury was a discussion at the Parliament of Singapore, where the SG Prime Minister’s wife, Ho Ching, even said hello to Zoe. How cool is that?

This started when she posted a video that had gone viral because she got so much flak for calling her new Charles & Keith bag as a luxury bag. The post garnered over 20 million views. However, the whole thing got bigger when her video response enlightened a lot of netizens. It was amazing how an articulate 17-year-old girl schooled her haters.

@zohtaco Replying to @cressy ♬ original sound – zoe ?

Saying her piece helped her transcend all the madness. She carried the strength and maturity of someone beyond her years. You can throw anything at her and she handles it with grace. 

Zoe Gabriel: From First-World to Third-World

Since Zoe grew up in Singapore, she isn’t used to pee-stained streets or getting pursued by a battalion of street kids for some change and that’s exactly what happened when we scoured the streets of Manila for the perfect place to shoot.

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Photo by Dudez Perez-Ignacio

Zoe is garbed in a vintage 60s mini dress acquired from a vintage closet sale.

The long stretch of Ongpin St in Binondo, Manila was packed with people all wanting to be a part of the pre-Chinese New Year shindig last January 21 and Zoe squeezed through the mob without any qualms. Her sweaty arms were sliding and mopping up these strangers’ sweaty arms, we walked the gritty streets of Escolta to Ongpin and, in the process, she kept asking for her dad, Donny Gabriel’s phone to snap some photos of beautiful Manila.

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Photo by Dudez Perez-Ignacio

Vintage In & On two-piece blouse and wide-leg pants set.

Through the throng of pre-CNY celebrators along the Ongpin stretch, Zoe was recognized by some people. Kids were thrilled to see her and asked to have their photos taken with her. She welcomed these friendly strangers as if she were the hostess of this huge Binondo mardis gras.

From Charles & Keith to Ukay-Ukay Threads

The threads I got her to try on weren’t as posh as Charles & Keith but these rare vintage finds are wickedly cool on their own. However, I was a bit unsure that the pieces I brought her might not fit or even click. Furthermore, with Zoe’s status, I wasn’t sure that getting her to sport a few ukay-ukay hauls might not appeal to her global clientele. Still, her confidence made the outfits sing.

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Photo by Dudez Perez-Ignacio

Vintage Biba Mode de Paris army green vest and striped 70s straight-cut trousers.

Zoe doesn’t need a luxury brand to bring out the beauty in her. Her authenticity shines through. You get pulled into her mobile eyes and just want to switch from being brand-conscious to soul-conscious. That right there is her true reflection.

Zoe Gabriel: From Bashed to Beloved

Her video response to the hate that was laid out from her first TikTok video was what turned the tables. She went from bashed to beloved because of that. People were able to relate to the happiness she felt from receiving her first ‘dalaga’ bag which her dad got for her. After having met her, I now understand the hype.

Now that she’s back in Manila, I thought I’d show her around. The day we had was definitely not a luxe day out yet she took it all in with joy and gratitude. She’s just happy to be back home. Exposing her to the anarchic yet interesting streets of Manila is part of the fun. We can easily set her up at a swanky AirBnB or get her to pose in a high-end clothing collection but I’m gonna pull a ‘Bread Talk’ on her and, like her folks, tell her ‘next time’. 

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Photo by Dudez Perez-Ignacio

Zoe’s sporting a pair of Pedro white sneakers which is founded in 2006 by the Charles & Keith Group brand.

That’s Zoe. You can throw anything at her and she handles it with grace. Her humility, excitement for anything, and authenticity are the traits that make her such a trooper. These are the layers that make her cool and Zoe is just the kind of cool that we ought to strive for.

(Thank you, @HertzPH Car Rental for the free ride.)

Article by Dudez Perez-Ignacio