I came across this video when I was scrolling through my Tiktok a few months ago and after reading through the comment section, was horrified to see how many people (despite the horrific information being shared in the video) were still in support of the brand that sends more clothing to landfill than the likes of H&M.
SHEIN has become the largest online “ultra” fast fashion retailer (i.e their turnaround times are quicker than the usual fast fashion bad guys) and contributes to the majority of fast fashion waste IN THE WORLD.
I wanted to write a post to address many of the questions that came up in the comments in the video as I came to the conclusion this may well be what a lot of my readers think when they come across one of my posts blasting a fast fashion company for the thousandth time.
People can’t afford to buy from ethical brands
Buying ethically doesn’t necessarily equate to buying from an “ethical brand”, the easiest way is to change the way you shop. The best way is find secondhand places to purchase your clothing and there are plenty of items being sold secondhand that are brand new with tags on! You can also reduce the amount of clothing you’re purchasing (nobody needs 5 versions of a trend led dress that’s going to go out of fashion as quickly as it came in – just pick one) and save the money you’d usually spend on multiple items, to buy better quality clothing that will last you longer.
Only privileged people can buy ethically/sustainably
I’m not someone you would class as underprivileged as I live a comfortable life; I have a great job, am a homeowner, no debt (discounting the bloody mortgage) and am left with a decent (well, fair) amount of money to live on after all of my bills have been paid, although that amount is slowly dwindling in the cost of living crisis, and some money has been put aside in my savings account. Therefore, I can’t necessarily speak confidently on this however, as per my above point, buying secondhand is generally much cheaper, accessible to all and more sustainable. You don’t have to buy clothes from sustainable brands in order to be more sustainable with your clothes shopping choices.
I can’t afford to buy a T-shirt for £50-£100
Neither can I! I’ve never paid that much for a T-shirt but purchasing clothing secondhand from the likes of eBay, Vinted, thrift and charity shops, I’ve always got a variety of clothes to choose from that don’t break the bank.
I want to buy sustainably, but can’t find my size when I want to buy something secondhand!
If you genuinely can’t find your size, the best thing you can do is to minimise the amount you buy and invest in timeless pieces that you’re not going to need to replace after a couple of wears. The fast fashion industry banks on its customers’ constant need to over consume – buying something new every week isn’t sustainable for the planet and in doing so, we’re feeding into the capitalist lives of those at the very top of those companies. Each time you click that “buy” button, some rich twat is running off to the bank, thanking the heavens for everyone’s love of fashion (or I imagine).
In summary, in order to be more sustainable and minimise the amount we spend with the likes of SHEIN (if you’re a frequent customer, let’s be honest, how many times have you ordered something, only to have it turn up and not be what you thought it was going to be?) we need to shop less and smarter, which in itself is a more sustainable way of living in today’s fashion world.
I’d like to encourage you to visit this Good on You article which was the source for some of the above information – this website has such a wealth of information about sustainability in the fashion industry.
Let me know about your experiences of shopping with SHEIN or secondhand in the comments and if you have any money saving tips for your fellow fashionistas!