Social media users, various media outlets, and even the Mexican government have criticized some of the products that Shein has carried on its website due to cultural appropriation and cultural insensitivity. In July 2020, a scandal sparked when Instagram and Twitter users — notably Marissa Casey Grossman — shared posts that displayed what Shein called a «swastika pendant necklace» being sold on the website (via Refinery29). There was, of course, almost immediate backlash on social media and, according to CBS News, users accused Shein of anti-semitism and demanded people stop supporting their brand. Shein eventually removed the necklace from its website and apologized on social media, claiming on Instagram that the pendant represented a Buddhist symbol for «spirituality and good fortune.» CBC reported that lead exposure can damage the heart, brain, kidneys, and reproductive system; and contamination can be especially harmful to infants and children, making the levels found in the children’s jacket that much more dangerous.

  1. «This helped the online retailer grow its presence and reach a wider audience more quickly.»
  2. «Shein has taken the lead in low prices, which is achieved due to their low-cost model and improper labor practices, and the end result is a low price for a consumer and that is key,» Saunders said.
  3. Fast fashion, which refers to inexpensive and trendy clothes being produced at an inhumane speed to meet public demand, especially damages the environment due to the mind-blowing abundance of clothing being produced in such a short time period.
  4. In July 2020, a scandal sparked when Instagram and Twitter users — notably Marissa Casey Grossman — shared posts that displayed what Shein called a «swastika pendant necklace» being sold on the website (via Refinery29).

Asian eCommerce clothing websites are notorious for their sizing because they use Asian size standards. Europeans and Americans tend to have bulkier statures, so this can be a bit of a problem. Here, you’ll learn more about Shein, the quality of their clothes, and much more. You must send back and postmark your return packages within 45 days after the purchase date. According to the Wall Street Journal, Shein told investors it generated $23 billion in revenue and $800 million in net profit in 2022.

Securities and Exchange Commission, but if the IPO moves forward, the filing — which would include details about the company’s financial operations, executives and more — would eventually become a public document. But he notes that rumblings of a recession on the horizon mean consumers are caught between turning away from Shein’s “dark sides” and staying on budget. Leconte is doubtful here, too, that Shein has enough visibility into its own production cycles to make claims about where it can meaningfully reduce its overall carbon footprint. Leconte says that the idea of ordering clothes and wearing them for a single event before getting rid of them has become the “norm” for many today. She tells Global News that Shein’s legal firepower is too much for independent designers to realistically go up against.

More from Global News

When clothing is disposed of within North America, it often ends up in landfills in the Global South and Southeast Asia, such as the Atacama Desert in Chile, a waste dump visible from outer space, Schmidt said. Clothing waste has doubled since 2000, and the United States and Europe produce 30 million tons of clothing waste annually, according to Schmidt. «Investors will want to understand how profitable Shein is,» Saunders said. «This is especially important as online fashion can be a tricky sector to make money from.» But Shein is filing for an IPO at a time when demand for public offerings has been muted, Saunders noted. «An IPO is significant both because of the potential scale of the deal and because it represents a formalization of Shein’s business,» Neil Saunders, a retal analyst and managing director at GlobalData, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Brand awareness

Such videos are widely shared on social media and illustrate how many items you can buy for $100, for example. This is free marketing for the brand and a key reason why it’s become so successful on social media. The Chinese brand insists that its method of producing clothes in small batches is more efficient and that little goes to waste. A spokesperson said that its business model «balances consumers’ wants and needs and the inventory process». Although the firm has paid out more than $1m (£741,000) to independent designers to date, Twitter still sees complaints from smaller businesses. Some claim that Shein has allegedly copied their designs and sold similar items at a lower cost.

What Is Shein?

Winder says Shein has been able to take a “major chunk” of the fashion industry by racing its designs to market. It’s not uncommon for clothing collections making their debut on the runways one day to be listed in Shein’s online stores just a week later, he tells Global News. While she admits she has seen comments online questioning the environmental impact of ultra-fast fashion and how much Shein’s workers are paid, she would buy from the company again in future. In what author and Chinese technology expert Matthew Brennan has branded «real-time retail», smaller companies along its supply chain are fed information from its in-house tools on what’s trending or how well certain products are performing.

Meta finance chief Susan Li said on the last earnings call in October that the company has «benefited from spend among advertisers in China reaching customers in other markets,» echoing comments she made in April. Although Meta didn’t name Temu and Shein by name, analysts widely speculated that they were most responsible for the sales lift, considering their explosive growth of late. One of the best ways to vet your purchase at Shein is to read the Shein clothing reviews.

Also, when washed, polyester releases microplastics (which can take decades to centuries to break down) into the ocean, harming marine and human species when ingested, per The Guardian. Apart from this, the fashion industry is the second largest industry in terms of its water consumption, which makes sense considering that just one pair of jeans requires nearly 2,000 gallons of water to produce (via National Geographic). It alleges that Shein violated antitrust laws by intimidating manufacturers not to work with the Boston-based company, Reuters reported.

Reprocessing systems are not capable of breaking down certain synthetic clothing fibers or removing dyes. «Most environmental waste and damage comes from overconsumption, so to be truly green and sustainable, you don’t want people to buy as often,» Saunders said. «Shein are the ones that are taking fast-fashion to superspeed, leading to an enormous amount of unnecessary and disposable consumption, and that’s not great for the environment.»

With quality that beats most Walmart lines and other mentioned cool perks, Shein is an excellent online shopping choice. Many other Chinese online retailers resort to specific illegitimate tactics to lower their costs. Unlike these examples, Shein doesn’t hide their real costs in inflated shipping fees, and they don’t misrepresent their products. Fast fashion companies like Shein use fabric with decent quality, but it’s not the best. Instead, Shein clothes are meant to help you dress like your favorite celebrities by allowing you to wear lookalikes of brands they endorse without paying thousands of dollars for the real item.

Matthew Brennan, a Beijing-based writer and analyst of Chinese technology, likened its pace to “real-time” retail. That means Shein is constantly gathering and analyzing customer data and uses that knowledge to craft new designs — within as little as three days. In January 2021, after repeatedly being accused of ripping off independent designers, Shein launched Shein X, a program intended to «inspire how to invest in coca cola and support young designers to chase their dreams,» according to the company’s website. Since then, the program has worked with around 1,500 designers and artists from all across the world, according to PR Newswire. Specifically, Shein helps its Shein X designers with manufacturing, marketing, and sales while allowing them ownership over their designs and a piece of their line’s profit.

Fast fashion took off in the 1990s

What are the ethics of producing and selling thousands of garments a day at a breakneck pace, even if workers are reportedly paid on time? Some of the most popular Shein-related TikToks feature young women buying hundreds of dollars’ worth of clothes to try on for every season or fashion TikTok trend. Sure, not every consumer can afford ethically made goods or have easy access to a thrift store, but it’s not low-income shoppers who are keeping Shein and the fast fashion industry alive. It wasn’t until 2014 that Shein began to acquire its own supply chain system, transforming itself into a fully integrated retailer. By 2015, the company had shortened its domain name to Shein, a move that reportedly made the brand more memorable and searchable for shoppers.

Chinese fast-fashion retailer Shein overtook Amazon this year to become the most downloaded shopping app in the US.

«One of the biggest issues with Shein is their lack of disclosure,» Schmidt said. «They are one of the biggest private companies and they don’t actually disclose their volume of production, where they’re sourcing materials from and their emissions.» Transparency and other challenges notwithstanding, rumors that the company intends to go public continue to circulate, along with talk of company plans to expand its manufacturing from China to Mexico and Brazil. A recent funding round pegged Shein’s value at $66 billion, or about one-third lower than a year ago, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Covid crisis provided the company with a sales boost, says Richard Lim, chief executive of independent consultancy Retail Economics. However, there are still some things that you should pay attention to when shopping here. For instance, if you are a Medium in one shirt that you’ve ordered off of Shein, it isn’t set in stone. But this won’t be of too much help unless you are a tailor or know someone who is. The best way to go is to check the review section for each piece and try to feel out what size you need.

The sheer volume and speed at which Shein gets the latest fashions into consumers’ hands spurs concerns that not all of Shein’s clothing is original. Designers have told outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the BBC and the Guardian that Shein has allegedly ripped off their work. On August 10, its added a statement on its website about modern slavery, which referenced its requirement for suppliers and manufacturers to comply with all applicable laws, including child-labor laws. There is less clothing waste because the company doesn’t create large quantities of products that customers don’t want. However, there are some benefits that they’ve added that set them apart from their competitors. With that said, the quality that Shein offers is better than Walmart and most other shopping mall brands.

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