Shein X gives Indianapolis clothing, fashion designer bigger platform – IndyStar

There are times when Tendai Phillips will stare into her closet, unsure of what she wants to wear. Stumped, Phillips reaches for fabric and scissors and whips something up from scratch.
“Whatever I’m feeling in the moment, that’s what I go with,” Phillips, 34, of Indianapolis, said. “Nine times out of ten, it turns out really good.”
Phillips’ sense of is as diverse as her personal urban brand, Redefinition, which is influenced by Afro-pop, hip-hop, K-pop culture and Japanese street style. Her , she said, caters to men, women, and offers styles in unisex, a concept Phillips enjoys tinkering with.
“One of my favorite pieces I did in 2018 was a jumpsuit,” Phillips said. “My inspiration came from sharing a closet. I played on both the idea of women taking their men’s hoodies and a lack of pockets on women’s clothes.”
The result was a tan jumpsuit that could be worn by either gender. And it has plenty of pockets.
Phillips credits part of her success to a partnership with Shein, an online company based in China known for its inexpensive and stylish clothing. While Shein is facing legal troubles for some of its alleged corporate practices in an antitrust lawsuit, Phillips’ association with the company has been good for business, she said.
Shein X, which began in 2021, is a program that helps independent designers like Phillips with some of the more heavier lifts in the industry, like manufacturing. She participated in Shein X’s first competition and earned a spot on the company’s .
“As an independent , it is quite competitive out here, especially with large brands that can afford to do manufacturing and buy fabric in large quantities,” Phillips said. “Shein me an opportunity to put my creations on paper and they handle the rest. That, to me, is just out of this world.”
In addition to her personal website, clothing designed by Phillips can be purchased on Shein’s website.
Like sewing itself, Phillips’ career in was stitched together piece by piece over time. She can remember growing up in Zimbabwe with an older sister who enjoyed making clothes for her to play in. Her mother and grandmother, she said, sewed as well and Phillips took an interest in watching them work.
“Me and my sisters, we used to sew for Barbie dolls,” Phillips said. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but we actually did.”
Phillips signed up for a high school class offering to teach fashion and fabrics. From then on, she said, she was hooked and never looked back. She moved from Zimbabwe to Indiana in 2006 with her father and graduated from the Art Institute of Indianapolis in 2015.
Today she has a design studio in downtown Indianapolis at the Circle City Industrial complex, which houses nearly 80 artists in photography, fashion, film, sculpture and design.
Seeing other people wearing her clothing designs is a “surreal experience,” Phillips said.
“I always have, like, ‘pinch-me’ moments, like, ‘Oh my gosh, is that me’?” she said. “Are they actually wearing something that was in my head? It’s nice. It makes me feel validated. I enjoy bringing my imagination into life.”
You can see more of Phillips’ clothing on Instagram, as well as her website,
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John Tufts covers evening breaking and trending news for the Indianapolis Star. Send him a news tip at


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