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5 alternatives to trending products that won’t break the bank

By Wyatt Gilliland

The Eyeopener is not paid by or partnered with any of the featured brands or products in this article

From the viral Stanley tumbler to Apple’s new Vision Pro goggles, trending gadgets are everywhere. And like its popularity, the price tags can be sky-high. 

This is The Eye’s guide for cheaper alternatives to the internet’s most viral products that won’t compromise on quality and are priced better for students. 

Each item is at a lower price point but has a comparable quality.

Simple Modern Tumbler


The Stanley cup—no, not that one—is all the rage in drinkware society with the rise of #WaterTok posts on TikTok, even prompting a Saturday Night Live skit with Dakota Johnson satirizing the size and hype of the cup. 

With prices starting at $59 for the 40-ounce tumbler and collectible styles selling out on the company’s website, this cup is considerably higher priced than the $16 Nalgene bottle that were trendy earlier in the decade.                    

A cost-friendly alternative is the Simple Modern 40 ounce tumbler at $40. Available in a variety of colours and patterns, this tumbler boasts many of the flagship features seen with its trending competitor—like 24-hour cold insulation and a cup holder-friendly base. As well, Simple Modern claims that their products are leak-resistant. 

The product currently boasts a 4.8 star rating out of 28,800 reviews with 1,000 bought on Amazon in the last month.

Uniqlo Seamless Down Puffer Jacket

White puffer jacket

Vancouver has gifted the world with several great inventions, like Lululemon leggings, the iconic Herschel backpack and more recently, the Aritzia Super Puff jacket.

Unfortunately, the popular brand has attached a $250 price tag onto the coat—making it a big investment for students.

But you don’t have to empty your bank account to rock the iconic style on the street. We found UniQlo’s Down Puffer Jacket at a comparable style for $129.90.

Boasting a near-identical look and multiple colourways, this alternative comes equipped with a water and wind-resistant exterior, as well as a down-filled interior to keep warmth insulated through cold days.

This product has 101 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars on the Uniqlo website.

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses or Meta Quest Pro

Pair of black glasses.

Last June, Apple left the world drooling when it launched its latest addition to tech innovation: the Apple Vision Pro.

Released in select markets on Feb. 2 at a steep price tag of US$3,499 (~C$4,716), it is one of Silicon Valley’s most expensive mass-consumer headset debuts according to BNN Bloomberg.

The product is not yet available in Canada, however, there are already several alternatives from big-name brands at a much more digestible price.

If virtual reality capabilities on your glasses aren’t a must, then the $409 RayBan Meta Smart Glasses might satisfy your craving for advanced virtual assistant features. 

Available in two trims and several colours, the glasses are equipped with an ultra-wide 12 mega-pixel microcamera and embedded speakers for great audio. 

It also includes hidden touch and speech controls, allowing you to take photos, listen to music, take phone calls and live stream to Instagram and Facebook, all from a pair of glasses.

META Smart Glasses and left and right controllers on each side.

If the virtual reality abilities are a dealbreaker, then consider the Meta Quest Pro goggles.

Starting at $1,399.99, this headset comes fully equipped to deliver a premium mixed-reality experience. 

The device has several built-in sensors to accurately display your surroundings with minimal distortions. On-board colour graphing renders virtual elements seamlessly into the real world through your goggles, allowing you to stay present while interacting with online elements.

Users will experience five infrared eye and facial movement sensors. Operating with a 120-degree field of view, these sensors can track your expressions and facial movements with show-stopping precision.

Other flagship features include haptic feedback touch controls, three individual cameras, quantum dot-built lenses and 256 GB of onboard storage, creating a fully contained and immersive experience.

Monos Travel Luggage Collection

Grey hard-shell suitcase with extended handle.

Rimowa suitcases are stylish travel pieces seen all over social media, but at prices in the high one-thousands, it is far out of reach for most students.

However, you don’t have to liquidate assets to have a suitcase with the same sleek look.

Mono’s carry-on lineup gives consumers the choice between eight classic colours at the qualifying size for many major airlines. 

At $285, the Monos suitcase features a water-resistant polycarbonate exterior and 360-degree spinning wheels. Additionally, each purchase includes an antimicrobial silver ion-coated laundry bag, two shoe bags and a vegan leather luggage tag.

This travel piece has a 4.9-star review out of 2,200 submissions on the Monos website.

Shark FlexStyle Hair Styler

Drawer with hair styler and 5 brush attachments.

Hairstyling enthusiasts have hurled themselves with tsunami-level intensity at Dyson’s $799 Airwrap hairstyler. The famous brand known for its innovative vacuums shocked the internet when it dropped this hairstyling device in the summer of 2022.

Shark has come to the boxing ring to knock-out the Airwrap with the FlexStyle hair styler, which launched in 2022. 

The device starts at $299 and offers customers eight different packages for a customizable experience with colours ranging from Malibu Pink to Lilac Frost. 

Shark’s device includes a 1.25-inch auto-wrap curler, a multi-styling tool and an incorporated brush.

The several different attachments give consumers a wide range of style choices for their hair, from curling, volumizing, smoothing to drying.

The FlexStyle also boasts the ability to protect users from heat-induced hair damage. 

While the drastic price difference surely makes up for small discrepancies in quality and design, there are some complaints worth noting. 

Online brand reviewer Mollie Campsie said in her review that if you want to change the direction of the airflow on the FlexStyle, you have to manually swap out the main barrel piece, whereas Dyson allows you to simply turn a nob placed atop the barrel. 

Each version of the Shark device averages 4.4 stars out of 1,100 reviews.

While TikTok makes many of us feel like we have to give up next month’s rent for the latest trending product, there is almost always an equally good dupe at half the price. One simple search and you can save yourself hundreds of dollars! 

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