Last April, the Chinese fast-fashion (i.e., very cheap fashion clothes) online store was worth $100 billion, about €96 billion, more than H&M and Zara combined, and nearly 7 times the number at which the same company is rated. 2020. Shein e-commerce is especially appreciated by young women audience due to wide selection of items and extremely low prices; In the past couple of years, it has also become very popular thanks to the role of social networks. At the same time, it began to attract a lot of criticism for an approach that, according to various points of view, encourages unbridled shopping and “short-lived” fashion, with a supposedly huge environmental impact.
Shein (obvious skate in) in 2008 by Chinese businessman Chris Xu in Nanjing. At first, he sold wedding dresses bought from wholesale markets, and then he started selling regular dresses as well, taking advantage of the fact that there weren’t many online clothing stores at that time.
Things started going especially well in 2015 when the online store started producing its own clothes, moving production to Canton, the center of the Chinese textile industry. It was then that Shein – even shortly before SheInside – began focusing on both digital technologies and its image to compete with the world’s largest fast fashion brands and gain market share in Europe and the US.
Unlike other fast-wear stores, such as Zara and H&M, Shein sells its products directly to the public, without intermediaries, in order to cut costs. It is based on a very fast production flow and does not have its own identity or aesthetics, but uses algorithms and data analysis to intercept and re-propose the costumes of different countries as quickly as possible in their new collections, often copying the creations of more or less well-known designers, and replicating them in lower quality much.
With this system, Shein is able to produce new sets in a matter of days, while its main competitors take an average of three weeks; Moreover, it manages to put thousands of new items online every day, such as T-shirts for 6 euros and summer dresses for 11 euros, which also encourages buying through discounts and promotions.
The coronavirus pandemic has contributed significantly to Shein’s growth, both because other fast fashion brands have always been so focused on physical stores, and thanks to ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Much of the brand’s success comes precisely from the following it has built on social networks: by simply asking its users to post pictures of their clothes, then posting them on the official e-commerce channel, or through collaboration agreements with various influencers..
Another way in which Shein has established herself among the younger generations is the so-called “pull videos’, literally ‘looting videos’, i.e. those in which people open packages of products they order at home, which increases the visibility of different brands. To give the idea, videos tagged with ‘Shein Haul’ have been viewed on TikTok more than 5.7 billion times. With over 25 billion views for its hashtag, Shein is the most quoted brand of all time on TikTok, the social network frequented primarily by people of “Generation Z” (i.e. those born after 1996).
While thousands of young people continue to find Shein attractive and competitive, many others, more attentive to environmental sustainability, oppose its approach, also criticizing the company for its alleged exploitation of child labor and workers in general, which in the fast fashion industry is a very current problem.
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In April, Samoan-American influencer Drew Avalo came under fire from many of his 7.5 million followers on TikTok for his sponsorship deal with Shein. In May, the opening of a pop-up e-commerce store in Toulouse, France, was interrupted by a few dozen people who demonstrated against the massive environmental impact of “short-lived” fashion, while hundreds more queued to enter the store.
In a video shared on YouTube that has been viewed more than 3 million times, American influencer Mina Low credits “thepull videos“(Like Shein) there is an excessive increase in consumption among users of social networks, who are forced to buy more and more products, including clothes that they already know will last a few months.
The way SheIn makes three of the most polluting fashion brands seem insignificant is downright terrifying. pic.twitter.com/OSAU8imqtm
– Venetia La Manna (venetialamanna) 7 April 2022
Shein is a very private company and practically nothing is known about the supply chain or production processes: for this reason, it is not even possible to know the environmental impact of ultra-fast production.
One particularly contested custom of Shein is that every piece of her clothing delivered in plastic packaging is bound to end up in landfills right away, as is often the case with the clothing itself. It’s estimated that Shein produces at least 35,000 pieces of clothing per day – which is a huge problem, considering that the clothes they sell have a limited shelf life and that on average, people throw away 60 percent of the clothes they buy during the same period . the year they bought it.
The site also summed up very effectively high fameLtd., which deals primarily with street fashion and youth trends, said, “The amount of waste that Shein has to produce with her very cheap clothes, constantly running factories and international shipments, must be enormous.”
In addition, in some cases traces of lead were found in large quantities in clothing and accessories sold through the site. “University of Toronto professor of chemistry, Myriam Diamond, told Canadian Public Television CBC That amount could be up to 20 times what Canadian health authorities consider safe for young children.
In recent months, Shein has been trying to defend itself from the various criticisms it has received, and has shown itself to be more attentive to the environmental sustainability concerns expressed by its clients. She announced a $50 million fund to reduce textile waste and partnered with a nonprofit to protect the environment. In his 2021 Sustainability and Social Impact Report, he said he wanted to commit to reducing water consumption and minimizing waste during all stages of production.
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