Shein is reportedly owned by the same company as Romwe and many other cheap fast fashion brands, all of which are based in China. For the extent of this article, I will be using reports that apply to Romwe to draw comparisons to Shein.
Shein does admittedly look a bit sketchy, with all the photos looking like they were pulled from different companies there is little to no cohesion between styles of the photos featured. The website also includes various pop-up ads for newsletters or sales that also serve to make the site look less credible.
cheap prices for trendy items being tempting for money-tight students.
Ordering from Shein can be exciting, with cheap prices for trendy items being tempting for money-tight students. Clothes are shipped from halfway across the world, meaning that parcels take up to and over three weeks to get to you. Which means your order arrives only once you’ve forgotten you placed it and just how much money you spent- so it’s like a great surprise present given to you for free!
When I’ve purchased from Shein (this being 3 times), the clothes were cute, looked at least similar to what I had ordered, but of no real quality. Clothing would quickly come apart at the seams or zips due to weak and flimsy loose-weave fabric. Friends have also ordered from Shein (or its sister company Romwe) and been happy with what they’ve received, often having only small complaints like earrings not being stuck to their backs; an easy fix.
Historically, trends lasted decades, in recent history collections came out twice a year. Now, there are new trends with every passing month, with a new stylish item that cheap brands must replicate and produce quickly to sell for small prices before the next short-term trend comes along. Fashion consumption went up by 60% between 2000 and 2014, with clothes being kept for half as long as they were 15 years ago. It was also reported that consumers only wore their clothes seven to eight times before discarding them because of their low-cost which made them disposable, as found by McKinsey and Company.
Shein only adds to this cycle of fast and disposable fashion, encouraging people to buy cheap and poorly made clothes in order to make a quick profit and harm the planet in the meantime.
Outside the realms of quality and durability, the darker side of Shein is one that plagues all of fast fashion; one of the exploitation of, predominantly, women in the Global South, as well as one of disposable plastic clothing that's harming our planet. The demand for constant new cheap fashion laid out previously means low-cost labour is deemed necessary by companies whilst being allowed and ignored by consumers.
Globally, one in six workers is in the fashion industry, with 80% of them being women, as reported by Good On You. These workers are then subjected to dangerous and constantly fast-paced environments, where only 2% globally are paid a living wage. Romwe (and therefore Shein) was rated by fashion ethics company Good on You as “We Avoid”, meaning they recommend consumers to stay away due to the company providing ‘insufficient’ information on their impact on ‘planet, people and animals’. The brand, like so many others, likely uses low-cost unethical labour from poor women to make their cheap clothes, and them providing no information to the contrary does little to appease buyers.
Shein has given us no real reason to trust them, from delivering us poor-quality clothes to failing to disclose their production practises, it’s no wonder that 46% of reviewers on Trustpilot UK called it a bad company to buy from.
All images: Instagram