Everyone sympathizes with the struggle of wanting to stay up to date on the latest fashion trends, yet not having enough money to fund the neverending shopping addiction. To all avail, fast fashion is there to save the day. Fast, easy, and always on trend, “fashion” brands like Shein have the products consumers are looking for, almost as fast as the originals hit the market. The harm lies not in the subconscious desire to be trendy, but the ethical issues of the stupendous amounts of labor and materials that are the sacrifice for finding exactly what you’re looking for while shopping.
So, why are people like Khloé Kardashian and Lil Nas X promoting Shein products, surely they have enough money for the originals, no? The reasoning behind this is not that simple. Shein’s business model is based on marketing directly to the consumer. They understand that their target market wants to keep up with trends. Through celebrity endorsements they sell the image that you too can dress to the likes of Khloé Kardashian at well below a fraction of the cost. In the age of “dupes” consumers are valuing quantity over quality, a phenomenon that is a capitalist economy’s sweetest dream. Low production costs and happy customers keep the cycle going, and the money flowing.
It’s often hard to see the harm one can cause ordering fast fashion. However, in recent headlines Shein has been under fire for speculations of child labor, underpaying workers, using cheap toxic materials, and profiting off of stolen designs. The Chinese-based company doesn’t seem to be slowing down, even challenging Amazon in many aspects. A day in the life of a shein factory worker includes 18 hours of work, 500 pieces of clothing made, and a little over $500 monthly salary. Penalties for mistakes are as harsh as a ⅔ pay dock.
Eradicating the billion dollar company is not the ultimate solution, as even brands such as Zara are fast fashion, the only difference is that they are marketed in an elevated manner to better fool the customer. In the age of consumerism it’s not always easy to separate wants from needs, but the best way to be a part of the solution is to be aware. Stop falling for micro trends that pass in a week’s time, and leave clothes piled high in the back of your closet. In the end the collective culture of never-ending wardrobes is contributing to the overwhelming amount of global pollution, funding grossly underpaid workers (including child-labor), and filling the pockets of multi-millionaire celebrities who wouldn’t be caught dead sporting the fast-fashion they market to you. The next time you wear a fast fashion brand think about the weight that the clothes carry both to the environment, and ultimately to your self concept. Are you really a better person because you have the same top Alix Earl wore in that one TikTok video, or is it the confidence that wearing the top evokes that you desire?