India recently banned 59 Chinese apps. Out of these were extremely popular apps like TikTok, Likee, Camscanner and UC Browser. While the focus has been entirely on TikTok users, another faction of the population is upset, namely young women who shopped from stylish yet affordable apps like Shein and Club Factory.
"Shein definitely changed the fashion game in India. In our society, clothes are symbolic of a person's status and class. Shein provided a mobility and fluidity to the people of marginalised background to transgress the elitist ideals of clothing. Fashion is always seen as a trickle down from the elite to the marginalised, however the exuberant costs kept many from being able to own the latest fashion trends. Shein made fashion affordable for all," says Shreya Singh, a student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
"I personally used to go through their website and not the app, they have a variety of colours and types and the best thing is they were cheap. The quality of the clothes were not up to the mark but I guess women care about quantity more than the quality so just the price mattered," says Nandinee Goswami, an engineer based in Mumbai.
Shein was also known for its inclusion of fashionable plus-size clothing. "I feel dejected. It was my regular go to fashion app and I am a very fashionable person. It’s kind of my lifestyle. I felt included due to the “plus” size category and the kind of clothing they have for plus-sized people. It made me feel good about my body seeing the plus size models. It was a great confidence booster. I never thought a shopping app would be emotionally important too," says singer-songwriter Darshana Kashyap from Assam.
Will Indian brands prove to be a better alternative to a Shein or a Club-Factory? "There are alternatives but their original fashion products are so bad. I personally wouldn't recommend," says Sneha Choudhury, a student of M.A. in Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Delhi based journalist Aakansha Malia agrees that while Shein catered to the college going urban population, the ban will make us shift our attention to indie-brands.
"Shien was a great option for all college-going, meager income people who would wear those Zara and Mango rip-offs in half its price. It brought a big change in the fashion game and it became reachable for all," she says.
"However, better late than never, we will be coerced to shift to more viable indie brands. Yes it will take time and a sea of change in our attitudes to invest in something for the long run and not for the one party we had to attend on the weekend," she concludes.
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