Why Shein is the problem

 Start supporting sustainable fashion, stop supporting fast fashion

Jade Infantolino

Many people — including myself — have been sucked into the fast fashion industry of Shein because of the thousands of styles and cheap prices they offer. Shein used to be on the top of my list to shop because you could get so much for so little (or, in other words, so little for so little) until I read more about their company.

Once Shein flooded the Internet and became popular around the world, more people were buying while Shein kept producing. With more production comes more fast fashion. Fast fashion is where cheap clothing is made faster than normal companies with the purpose of being sold faster. Shein’s cheap material doesn’t last long, and eventually it gets to a point where you need to get rid of the clothes and that often contributes to more pollution. In the NY Times article How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet by Tatiana Schlossberg, it states: “More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics…so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill…it will not decay.” This shows how the clothing of many companies can create pollution, but Shein, due to their high production rates, is especially guilty of this.

Shein seems to be careless about the safety of their customers as well. A recent study proved that Shein’s clothes have hazardous chemicals in them, including phthalates, which can damage your liver and lungs. It was also found to have formaldehyde, which can cause asthma attacks and respiratory symptoms. Greenpeace ran a test where they bought 47 items from Shein websites in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, including children’s shoes. They took those pieces and ran tests on them, finding high levels of harmful chemicals. In the article Taking the shine off SHEIN: Hazardous chemicals in SHEIN products break EU regulations, new report finds by Greenpeace, it is revealed that “Seven of them [Shein clothing pieces] (15%), contained hazardous chemicals that break EU regulatory limits…according to the tests a total of 15 of the products contain hazardous chemicals at levels of concern (32%).” This is an enormous problem for people’s health and it is terrifying that those kinds of chemicals are in children’s clothing and possibly clothing I’ve ordered before.

If these reasons haven’t changed your mind about Shein yet, the disastrous working environments of the Shein factories should. Shein is known to underpay and overwork their workers. These long days for people break China’s labor laws as well, explained in the 6 Reasons You Should Never Shop At Shein by the blogger of Ethically Dress: “Shein’s suppliers work 75-hour weeks……According to the labor laws in China, a working week should not be more than 40 hours. Shein is ignoring these laws.” 

We should all stop buying from Shein and start buying from more sustainable fashion companies like Levis, Reformation, and Patagonia. These clothing brands are more expensive than Shein but are worth every penny.  With these expenses in mind, wealthier people should stop supporting fast fashion when they can afford more sustainable brands. You wouldn’t be contributing to pollution or the bad working environment, and buying sustainably could also protect your health. We need to spread the word so more people will learn about the harsh reality of Shein’s products.