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Tackling the Controversy Over Shein

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Shein has gained growing popularity in recent years due to its low price and millions of trendy clothing and accessory options. Especially with summer coming up— Shein has the cheapest trendy swimsuits, as every girl knows— people are going to be ordering from the site more and more, feeding into the fast fashion company. This sparks a personal dilemma for me, as someone who has ordered “hauls” from Shein a couple times, and one that I believe needs to be talked about. It’s no secret that Shein is a fast fashion company who uses child labor and severely underpays their workers (also known as a sweatshop). What raises my personal dilemma is that we know this is happening but we choose to ignore it because of the insanely cheap prices. As high school students, we obviously don’t have a lot of money, so many of us shop on Shein so we can get more “bang for our buck.” But is the $10 swimsuit worth the disastrous effects companies like Shein have on the world?

The Impact of Shein

Shein has items that are affordable and that keep up with the ever changing trends in the fashion industry, which is part of the reason the company appeals so much to their target audience: young women. Even I have gotten lost in the rabbit hole that is Shein’s website, they have what seems like a million different options with hundreds of new items being added to the website each day. Although I have bought more things from Shein than I would like to admit, something about the website has always seemed a bit sketchy. In fact, I did research into Shein and they are not ethical in the slightest bit.

The company’s motto is “everyone can enjoy the beauty of fashion,” and yet the company sells offensive items such as necklaces in the shape of a swastika and Islamic prayer rugs as decorations. They are also notorious for stealing designs from small clothing businesses and selling them in a slightly altered and extremely low quality product. The website Good For You, rates fashion companies based on how ethical they are to the environment, animals, and their workers. This website gave Shein a score of “We Avoid,” which is the lowest score they give to companies. Shein has won the title of “We Avoid” because of its completely unethical practices. The fast fashion company uses hazardous chemicals, microplastics, and releases tons of carbon emissions into the environment. They also encourage throwaway fashion culture by producing and selling such cheap, poorly made products. As for their workers, Shein severely underpays them, has harsh working conditions with no benefits, and did nothing to protect workers from Covid-19. There is also a lot of suspicious activity surrounding animals, as they don’t have a policy to minimize animal suffering and don’t trace any animal products even to the first stage of production. All of these things combined are sickening.

I think we need to ask ourselves if we want to contribute to the disgusting culture that Shein perpetuates. Is the $6 shirt worth all of these impacts? Even if it doesn’t impact us in a direct way? At the end of the day it’s a matter of ethicality. I’m sure we’ll all contribute to fast fashion in the years to come (myself included), because of the cheap prices. What we can do is stop supporting companies like Shein, Romwe, and Zaful. There are many other companies that are more eco-friendly and better for the world. No matter how cheap and cute their stuff is, it’s not always worth the cost to the world around you.

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Apr 13, 2022

A good alternative is to shop second hand! Plato's Closet and Goodwill are both really good places to go to! Second hand shopping is more sustainable and usually cheaper as well!

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