By Ava Keresztesy

Why You Should Stop Shopping at Shein

Like many teenage girls, I am a big online shopper and social media user. Through social media, I’ve found great places to buy clothes and accessories including super cool small businesses and popular big brands. A popular online clothing store that has come across my page often is Shein, often in the form of haul videos. Shein, along with its subsidiary Romwe, are clothing companies that sell on-trend products at too good to be true low costs. The retailer is notorious for sending clothes far from the ones advertised on their website. Other than the poor quality of their clothes, Shein is unsustainable and horribly unethical. 

The first red flag regarding Shein is the poor quality of their clothes. Most of the clothing Shein manufactures is made of synthetic fabrics: nylon, rayon, polyester. The truth is these clothes aren’t made to be reused, nor are they made from reused fabrics. Shein is fast fashion, just like other mainstream brands such as Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Fashion Nova, and an endless list of others. Fast fashion brands like these encourage throw-away culture. This means that once these synthetic clothes go out of style, they will be thrown out and sit in a landfill for the rest of time. Fast fashion companies also generate about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions according to an article by Christine Ro for BBC. Furthermore, online shopping in general, especially shipping from across the world, is bad for the environment. Once you account for the packaging, emissions, and resources used, the impact is immense.

Shein is also an unethical company. Besides the environmental impact, Shein also has terrible working condidionts. Unfortunately poor labor wages and working conditions are not unique to Shein, but are common across fast fashion companies. The company has a history of not being transparent and is very shady whenever asked about working conditions, which is always a red flag. Furthermore, Shein has a track record for art theft and cultural insensitivity. In the summer of 2020, Shein released their “Fringe Trim Greek Fret Carpets” which were actually Muslim prayer mats. Just four days later they released a swastika symbol necklace. Their insensitivity is ignorant and unforgivable and cannot be forgotten with a simple Instagram apology statement. Many small artists have also reported their art being sold on Shein without their consent, even if it was copyrighted. All it takes is a simple Google search to find a myriad of stolen art and a lack of accreditation on Shein’s part. 

Beyond the unethical parts of Shein, their clothing is just bad. As I mentioned before, their clothing is not made to last thus it is of very poor quality. Often the clothing is not the color advertised and sizes are inaccurate. Their customer service is mediocre at best, and that just goes back to Shein’s lack of transparency. 

In conclusion, Shein is arguably one of the worst fast fashion companies out there. Buying sustainable, ethical, durable clothes means spending more money but it is definitely worth the price. Thrifting or buying second hand is always a sustainable option. As long as it is done ethically, thrifting is a great choice for buying clothes since no new clothes are being produced. I also recommend buying from local small businesses like Moonstruck CLE, an adorable vintage shop in Little Italy. Shopping locally is not only sustainable but also ethical and a great choice over Shein.