Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Gradients 4?width=719&height=464&fit=crop&auto=webp
Gradients 4?width=398&height=256&fit=crop&auto=webp
Style > Fashion

Shein and the Lead Crisis

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.

Fast Fashion Fauxes: How Shein and Other Fast Fashion Companies Are Leaving Customers at Risk 

Shein is a fast fashion company based in China that we’ve all come to know and love, with millions of clothing options that include cute pieces and a dupe for just about any high-end brand you can think of, quick delivery time, and an overall reliable site. However, there’s been a new finding that’s particularly alarming as it pertains to the famous brand. An investigation into the company by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) found lead, phthalates, and PFAs in the clothing. 

While fast fashion has long been critiqued and ridiculed by many since its inception, the one reigning concern that has recently arisen among fast fashion fans and critics alike is the toxic chemicals found in these fast fashion brands. Shein is only the latest brand to be caught in the fiery debate about just how much these chemicals can harm the human body and its immune system- however brands such as Old Navy, REI, and Lululemon have also been caught in the crossfires of this debate as it’s been uncovered that they too contain toxic chemicals in their clothing. 

In answering the question of whether the low levels of toxins can affect people over time, experts from Insider Magazine say yes, this indeed can be the case as its the accumulation of low-level exposure over time that is the real cause for concern as an individual’s risk of developing a serious health condition is heightened. Some of these health conditions include kidney damage and asthma. 

Now why are these chemicals being added to certain fashion companies’ clothes, you may ask? The answer to that, according to experts, is manufacturers go the chemical route in order to be able to market certain claims to people, whether that is making the garment more stain-resistant or even waterproof. Zippers, inks, and pigments that are relatively low-cost can at times contain lead as well. 

The manufacturers that have direct exposure to these chemicals may be experiencing the most harm from chemical usage. Approximately 27 million people who work in the supply chains for these fashion companies may be suffering from diseases directly related to the work they are doing in these supply chains. Some of these illnesses include respiratory conditions and skin conditions.  

These toxins can get into the body through the skin’s pores. Children are significantly more at risk than adults. This is primarily due to their behavioral tendencies. They are more likely to put clothes in their mouths, which results in more direct exposure to the toxins. 

All in all, these toxic chemicals are undoubtedly a cause for concern. Chemicals such as PFAs are particularly harmful to humans as well as the environment. It’s up to the government to ensure the clothing from these fast fashion companies is being regulated and rid of these toxins prior to them going on the market. Until then, that leaves it up to us as consumers to decide whether we’ll take on the risk of being exposed to toxins when buying affordable and trendy clothing. 

Hi! I'm Natalia Opoku, a 4th-year student at Temple University. I'm a Media Studies and Production Major with a Film minor. I have a passion for all things fashion, beauty, music, and film/ entertainment! I'm so happy to be a part of the Her Campus family and I'm looking forward to writing pieces for the magazine!