I know shopping is a competitive sport in Hong Kong, but sometimes people really go overboard.

A good-hearted girlfriend of mine recently hosted a closet clearing party. That’s where she invites a wide circle of friends and acquaintances together, bringing their old clothes, shoes and handbags for second-hand sale with the money going to charity.

It sounded like a fun night to see the girls, and have a chance to pick up each other’s “gently loved” fashion on the cheap. If you don’t see anything you like, then you’re encouraged to drink more cocktails until you do. There are worse ways to impair your judgement, like listening to a stylist who’s straight.

Unfortunately, not all the female guests looked at it this way. Some of them perceived the night as their own private clearance sale at Milan Station. They even arrived with a small wheeled suitcase.

These people are not interested in mingling and chit-chat. Their mandate is to make a beeline for the inventory snapping up brand name clothes and handbags they can’t actually afford new.

I made the mistake of trying to engage one of them in small talk, telling them the story behind one of my blouses. “My boyfriend gave me this when we were in Greece a couple of years ago. We were on a boat in the Aegean Sea and he complained I was still wearing black, so he bought this bright coloured top. It’s fine for the Mediterranean but doesn’t really suit Hong Kong.”

The woman gave me one of those fake smiles to let me know she didn’t care and I should leave her alone. She also rolled her eyes, threw the blouse back on the pile to suggest, “yeah girlfriend, I wouldn’t wear this piece of crap either!”

It was also quite rude that she turned the neatly folded stack of donated goods into a messy mound of leftovers. I can only imagine what she is like in a Gap store. So inconsiderate.

All along, I thought the point of the gathering was to have an excuse to clean out our wardrobe and then have an excuse to buy new stuff. If lucky, I might also find something cute to wear once or twice at minimal cost. It was supposed to be a chance to do some good and raise a little money for a cause.

I didn’t realise it would turn into a dreary night of antisocial scavenging. If I wanted that, I would go to the designer outlets.

However, I am going to take the high road on this. The fact is I pity these misguided ladies who mistake my friend’s event for a shopping excursion. Maybe we should hold a benefit for the unfortunate who don’t buy their clothes in season. Snap.

Illustration MAXIM SAVVA / ILLUSTRATIONROOM.COM.AU

Follow The Aristocrat as she attends the city’s hottest parties and events