Shein’s Unique Marking Strategy
Shein was one of the first brands to use TikTok as a way of advertising their products. The company is popular among Gen-Z shoppers who look to purchase trendy clothing for a low price. According to Shein’s 2020 press release, they add around 500 new products to their website each day.
Attempts to Become More Sustainable
The company claims to produce only 50-100 pieces per new product in attempt to reduce waste. However, when a product is in high demand, Shein implements large-scale production. There is a discrepancy between the brand’s alleged outputs and its reported numbers, leading to suggestions that Shein completes large-scale production more frequently than it estimates.
Shein also says its warehouses’ water and electricity automatically turn off when not in use. They claim that their warehouses also use solar-powered vehicles. In addition, the company has implemented a recycling program that allows consumers to trade in their old clothes for Shein gift cards at various pop-ups on college campuses. The company claims that traded in clothes get donated or refurbished.
Shein says it tries its best to source recycled fabric such as recycled polyester. However, as of October 2021, of the 70,372 women’s tops on the website, only 124 claim to be made from recycled polyester. This shows that Shein is not committed to sourcing sustainable fabrics.
Unethical Labor Practices
Shein’s unethical labor practices have been circulating on TikTok and Instagram, causing some backlash towards the brand. However, the company assures its customers they provide a fair and positive work environment for all. Fast fashion is often made in sweatshops that have unsafe working conditions and low pay. In addition, UNICEF estimates that 168 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are engaged in child labor–– fast fashion being a heavy contributor to this number.
Copying Smaller Businesses
Many small designers have claimed that Shein copies designs from smaller businesses. According to NPR, a designer at Elexiay (a Black-owned business), says Shein copied one of her designs–– a sweater originally priced at $330. Shein’s version of the sweater was priced at $17. The sweater was later removed from the website. There have been similar cases to this one with Shein’s “designs.”
Shein has not made many concrete commitments to a sustainable future. They have been vague about their environmental impact, offer a limited amount of information about its labor practices, and have done little to enforce real change. I know the low prices and trendy designs are tempting, but in order to save the planet and work towards a more sustainable future, it is important to shop local and sustainable.