Shein, previously Sheinside, is China’s latest global fashion player and retail Decacorn whose revenues is estimated by Insider to reach $10 billion annually. Targeting solely at Gen Z customers, Shein relies mostly on Instagram and TikTok through its affiliate program and trending hashtags to gain exposures and new customers.
Just last May, Shein overtook Amazon as top app in the shopping categories of iOS and Android. It also ranks as the top 10 app in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, the U.K., and Saudi Arabia. In 2020, Shein managed to invite global stars Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, and Rita Ora for #SHEINTogether global streaming event.
In short, they are a mega corporation.
Why Some Love it:
Generally, Shein operates on the basis of “what is currently trending”, somewhat to be expected from a retail company whose founder, Chris Xu, previously worked as an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specializing in Brand Marketing.
A particular niche for fast-fashion in social media lies on what’s called the “haul” trend -basically when you bulk-buy stuff from a store and share it with your audience- which takes over fashion Instagram and TikTok. Not only this promotes over-consumption, since the nature of this trend prioritizes quantity over quality, most of the clothing will never be used and immediately be discarded after filming the content.
Nevertheless, Shein pushes this trend by offering the lowest possible price for a clothing you could find online (the same dress could cost half price in Shein compared to Zara). This strategy is mainly to accommodate young girls, the brand’s main target consumers, who have yet to gain their own income.
Shein enables the choice to have this sales-breaking price by operating exclusively on online retail, meaning it has no offline shops and subsequently no worries for management and maintenance costs, thus could bypass all overhead costs.
According to Guardian, the hashtag #Sheinhaul has 2.5B views on TikTok as of August 2021. To keep up with this trend, CEO Molly Miao said to Forbes, Shein generates 700 to 1,000 new items daily and 70% of those will not last after three months.
Why Some Hate it:
On top of several plagiarism allegations, fashion experts’ distaste against fast fashion has always been the claims that the industry is unethical and unsustainable. To this, a spokesperson for SHEIN said to Guardian: “Shein is one of the only large retailers that orders 100 pieces or less for new products to help eliminate dead stock – which makes up 10% of the carbon emissions across the entire supply chain for the apparel industry. Shein is fully committed to upholding high labor standards across the entire supply chain and to improving the lives of workers in the global supply chain by supporting national and international efforts to end forced labor.”
However, a lot of people have noted how shady Shein is with its disclosure. On July 26, Reuters reported that Shein has falsely claimed to be “certified” by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and that Shein was “proudly in compliance with strict fair labor standards set by international organizations like SA8000.” Upon being asked further about these certifications, Shein instead immediately removed said descriptions from their official website.
The desire to look good and stay rich, to sell and produce, to create and destroy, is human.
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