Fast Fashion: The Secret Behind Shein


Fast Fashion: The Secret Behind Shein

Whether its clicking from tab to tab in the sales section, hurriedly running to my computer on Prime Day, or gravitating towards the clearance rack nestled in the corner of the store, you can always find a college student rummaging for the best deal possible. With the constant inundation of social media in our everyday lives, companies use websites such as Instagram and Facebook as a method of advertisement. While scrolling through our daily feed, we’ve all come across posts for such companies as Shein, Romwe, and ASOS. These clothing brands boast popular styles and beautifully crafted pieces for seemingly impossible affordable prices. But there’s a catch behind this perfect bargain: fast fashion.

Fast fashion has numerous tolls, not just on the designers themselves, but also the environment and the producers of these articles of clothing. Fast fashion refers to the mass production of items at minimum cost, with the aim for consumers to purchase new products every week. Because the quality of clothing is less than standard, often a majority of it goes to waste and can’t be resold. As a result, rather than being donated, the clothes end up in the landfill, building up for years without being disposed of properly. The main priority is quantity rather than quality. Designers simply look to churn out something new instead of something creative that adds to the reputation of the company. The consumer is wrapped up in the current trends, buys a piece, and as soon as the trend fades out, is left to search for the new fad, initiating the cycle once more. 

Image courtesy of The Conversation

The lack of creativity doesn’t even begin to compare to the havoc wreaked on the environment. Besides even more space on the planet being consumed by landfills, the factories that go into making clothing for these brands are massive sources of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, responsible for the steady rise in global temperature. A variety of startling statistics illustrate the extent of the damage this dangerous industry has on Mother Earth. The fashion sector is responsible for 8.1% of total emissions. 2,700 liters of water goes into making one cotton t-shirt. Toxic chemicals from manufacturing are seeping into local water supplies and rendering certain ecological areas “dead zones”, all for the sake of a new bodysuit or high heel. 

Yet another appalling result is the hurt this causes the workers themselves. The United States often exports much of its production abroad as they can find cheaper labor overseas than within the United States itself. Child labor laws in other countries are not stringent in protecting the rights of these underage children, and often kids under the age of 14 end up working a grueling 13 hour shift. 80% of the population is composed of women aged 18-24 who undergo a variety of trauma including sexual assault and routine abuse. In addition, much of the work they do is done for less than minimum wage, sometimes even as low as $3 an hour. While being trapped in a sweatshop for extended periods of time, these workers also run the risk of severely damaging their health due to exposure to toxic chemicals and synthetic material while in elevated heat.

Image courtesy of C&EN

While it is tempting to go with the option that is easier on your wallet, you should start to think about the true repercussions of that pair of jeans next time you pull out your card to swipe.

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