Ditch Shein & Shop From These Homegrown Brands, Instead

This week, on Twitter, all I heard was: Shein is coming back to India. Everyone announced its impending arrival — from The Print to Tech in Asia. While this news made many happy, it certainly didn't arouse my spirits. Even a tiny bit. People on Twitter took to tagging Shein asking from when they could shop to merely expressing delight. But here's a twist — instead of ooperating from its own website, Shein has listed itself as a seller on Amazon India to make a grand comeback during Amazon's Prime Day Sales. Owing to the ban of 59 Chinese apps, of which Shein is one, a petition was filed against this collaboration. The Delhi High Court has issued Amazon a notice, reports Live Law.

I don't know if you can shop from Shein or not during the Amazon Prime Day Sale. But allow me to tell you why you shouldn't shop from Shein. I'm not even talking about fast fashion or the price we pay for it. From a creator's standpoint — Shein is unethical and a part of a bigger problem that we don't realise.

Source: @thejordansphere/Twitter

Shein gained its roaring popularity with its price points, influencer hauls on Tiktok, and also because you could put together at least two looks under INR 2,000 with Shein. And let's be honest — who doesn't enjoy a new look whenever they're going out. But it comes at the cost of ripping off not just huge designers but small homegrown brands too. Especially the tiny brands that create with joy for the love of design and garments. I'm guilty of shopping from Shein without recognizing I was contributing to the unethical practices that the business followed to produce outfits quickly. Your favourite outfit from Met Gala or the Cannes makes way to Shein in less than a week. Maximum, three days.

I could go on and on, but I'd love to talk about the Indian brands I shop from. Sourced and made locally — here's a list of homegrown Indian brands, which are quirky and mostly under INR 2,000. Remember that owning a lot is not cool. Owning fewer pieces that make you more you is cooler.

Source: Aarka

Aarka: I discovered Aarka on Instagram; founded by Aarushi Singh, Hyderabad-based Aarka became my go-to jewellery brand. Whether I'm shopping for myself or friends, I quite like Aarushi's designs and how they blend in with both casuals and elaborate outfits. Aarushi tells me her jewellery is electroplated (eco-friendly and more sustainable in the long run). Made from pure brass alloy, these pieces are produced in small batches; they handcraft only 25 pieces at once. Aarushi works with artisans from Jaipur, and everything is under INR 2,000.

Old Cabin: Based out of Nagaland, Old Cabin's design philosophy is inspired by art, music, and street culture. Their collection is limited but if you're the kind that can live in a hoodie for as long as you can, their statement black hoodies are great. Minimalistic in every sense, their T-shirts and tote bags are worth checking out too. The entire label is priced under INR 1,500. Just so you know, the delivery time may be longer than usual. You'll need patience.

Source: Siesta O'Clock

Siesta O'Clock: A slice of summer, a slice of cheer is how I'd describe this Goan-based brand. While Siesta features quirky prints, handwoven ikats, and block prints, it works with various Indian designers to craft exclusive prints. If you dig pasta, The Vintage Pasta Shirt might be the one for you. And if you're into animals, you can take your pick from elephants, doggos, and giraffes. They've recently launched women's wear (dresses, shirts — the good stuff) and everything is made from 100 per cent cotton. Priced under INR 2,000, these folks use eco-friendly packaging and upcycle leftover fabric.

ANQI: Bags by ANQI are fun, bold, and every bit functional. I picked a suede bag from this label, which endured harsh weather and hasn't lost its sheen in these five years. Easy to clean and maintain, Anqi's bags are handcrafted and can be customised. Their box clutches can carry your name too; while that's what kept me going back to this label, I can vouch for its quality. Most bags are priced under INR 1,800.

The CAI Store: Bombay-based The CAI Store is a cruelty-conscious footwear label that works with Indian artisans and craftsmen. Focussing on durability, this brand tests the comfort and quality of every pair for at least a month before launching them. All the pieces are handcrafted using age old techniques, but caters to trend-conscious consumers, who are looking for something unique and comfortable. While they serve bling with their embellished footwear, their Quilted collection is where you'll spot the current trend — quilted footwear. Most of their pieces are priced under INR 2,000.

Shein may launch something new every day, and you may not always find something new with these brands. But here's the thing — they craft comfortable and durable products and pay their collaborators fair and square. Owing to the quality, they are more long-lasting, and you get the drift — there's more value for money.