College students often focus on ways to save money, and one online shopping site based out of China has made that easier, but not without some concerns. Among millennials, AliExpress.com is one of the driving forces for cheap online shopping, and Baker students in particular have found success with this site to purchase items ranging from home improvement to clothing.
Many BU students have purchased sports jerseys from the site. A normal jersey can cost anywhere from $80 to $120 dollars, but through AliExpress you can get the same jersey for $15.
What you don’t pay for with cash you may end up paying for in shipping time, though. Junior Cory Center, who is an avid AliExpress user, has had shipments take three times as long as regular orders.
“It took about five or six weeks to get here, but it was worth it because I only paid like 15 bucks for a jersey and when it got here I was like ‘wow, this is pretty nice material.’ It looks real and everything,” Center said. “I had a good experience, so I started ordering other stuff like sunglasses, posters, you name it. I started ordering a lot of stuff off there and I think it saved me a lot of money.”
Besides the long shipping times, another issue for some might be the ethics of ordering merchandise from unauthorized sellers. Many students don’t feel guilty for downloading songs or movies illegally, and they seem to have the same attitude toward buying jerseys and shoes online.
Junior Cory Center holding and wearing his Manchester United jerseys.
Center is a Manchester United fan and recently bought a jersey from AliExpress with the team emblem and likeness. Center’s reasoning for buying the jersey from the website instead of a licensed retailer was because “they are one of the most financially successful” clubs in the world.
“People make the argument, you’re not a real fan if you don’t support them with your money because that’s the only way clubs stay alive is the fans, but in this case I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think they’ll be all right,” Center said.
For foreign online retailers, it can be tricky finding which vendors to trust. Things to look out for include the amount of orders the seller has had — the higher the number the better the chance of getting what you ordered. Checking the reviews that people have left on the seller’s account can also be helpful. Buying from a seller that only has three orders and one review is not a safe bet compared to someone with 80 orders and 12 reviews.
Another purchase that many people have made on AliExpress is Kanye West’s shoes, also known as Yeezys. The Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 low-top shoes sell for $200 dollars, but even if one has $200 to spend on them, catching Yeezys while they are in stock is difficult. AliExpress has sellers willing to give you Yeezys for the small price of $25, and usually people can’t tell the difference. Even the inside of the shoe has the correct Adidas label.
Sophomore Blake Levine has purchased hats, sunglasses, pants, jerseys and shoes from AliExpress, and one of his favorite and most commented on items is his Yeezys.
“Almost every single time I wear them, I get asked if they’re real or not,” Levine said. “I’ll usually just tell them I got them from AliExpress and that turns into them ordering some for themselves.”
Although buying from AliExpress and similar sites does not supports the companies that make the real thing, they do allow college students to support teams and buy designer look-alikes for a fraction of the normal cost.