Online fashion retailer SHEIN sparks moral debate



Survey of 50 CHS students from Feb. 18, 2022 to Feb. 25,2022.

The global clothing retailer SHEIN has found a way to produce fashion cheaper and faster, taking social media by storm. The Chinese company has grown not only in popularity but in numbers, raking in nearly $16 billion in sales in 2021, according to Reuters.

SHEIN’s growth can be largely attributed to the popularization of consumer culture by apps like TikTok and Instagram, according to Business Insider. By televising commercials internationally and collaborating with influencers to promote their products, SHEIN has amassed a large online following (the retailer has 24 million followers on Instagram at the time of publication).

Despite the retailer’s prevalence, SHEIN has recently been at the forefront of controversy. Child labor, encouraging overconsumption and the fast fashion industry’s massive contribution to climate change and pollution are just some of the issues SHEIN has been criticized for.

A recent report by the Business & Human Rights Resource Center has shown that there are SHEIN factories in Southern China with employees working long hours for little to no pay. The brand uses factory workers and children to quickly produce their products, shipping them to the consumer as fast as possible, according to Brightly Eco.

Many, like junior Jen Talmage of Atlantic Highlands, voice concern over these controversial practices.

“SHEIN is an extremely exploitative company, and I don’t think anyone should really be buying from there,’’ Talmage said. “Especially not in the massive hauls that many do because their items are so cheap.”

As Talmage referenced, SHEIN and the influencers that promote the company often encourage overconsumption with viral videos showcasing hauls of hundreds of dollars worth of clothing.

Freshman Kaitlyn Gallagher of Neptune expands upon the idea of influencers posting these hauls.

“I think it’s wrong that people that have $500 [aren’t] spending it on fewer items of clothing that will last them longer,” Gallagher said.

Despite negative opinions, some, like freshman Alisa Kharod of Colt Neck, have enjoyed purchasing from SHEIN in the past.

“I really like SHEIN’s clothing because of how comfortable it is,” Kharod said. “I have t-shirts and jeans from SHEIN that are super soft and have held together for years.”

Called “the future of fast fashion” by Vox, it seems like nothing can stop SHEIN. However, with opinions of SHEIN’s products being so diverse and insight into the ethics of the company’s business practices, it’s up to consumers whether or not they choose to purchase from the popular retailer.