Updated: Sep 5
Over the past decades, fashion systems have moved from the system of the 1970s - 1990s,
(with labour outsourced to low-wage countries, standardised products, long lead times and a
reliance on sales forecasting) to a more flexible fast-fashion model; with clothing produced
closer to the point of sale, in smaller quantities, with higher production costs but increased
This system continued to develop throughout the 2000s and shifted into the hyper fast-fashion
(rapid fashion) model of brands such as Boohoo and Missguided. Focusing on rapid reaction to
trends and smaller unit orders (300 pieces) with new styles introduced daily. These
companies were already a sustainability nightmare with frequent reports of the poor treatment of
workers and very low-quality garments destined to be thrown away.
However, fashion has morphed once again to create the e-commerce giant SHEIN. With a
mind-boggling 10,000 new products added to its website each day, insanely low prices, and
near-constant sales, SHEIN is supercharging the issue of throw-away fashion.
SHEIN capitalises on the pressure perpetuated by Instagram and TikTok to have a stream of
new outfits, to never be seen in the same clothes twice and to be constantly on trend. The
garments are poorly made in low-quality fabrics, and, as is evidenced by the numerous SHEIN
haul videos across social media, many of these clothes are barely able to sustain one's wear.
These clothes can rarely be recycled and, due to the costs involved, most returns are never put
back into circulation so end up in a landfill. This also creates a secondary issue with charity shops
unable to handle the number of poor-quality garments that are donated.
Its extraordinary rise is entirely at odds with the growing awareness of the climate crisis. Some have claimed that SHEIN is inclusive due to its very affordable prices, however these come at the cost of poorly treated workers and untold damage to our environment. Whilst it can be very tempting to buy that pair of jeans in the style you like for a mere £10, think about the true cost that lies behind that low price. Fashion has already caused enough damage, please don’t contribute further by buying from SHEIN
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