Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: Inside Shein’s Sudden Rise
Shein represents a newer phase of fast fashion: Now, what appears on runways and in fashion magazines matters less, and people look to one another for what to wear. “They don’t care that Vogue doesn’t think it’s a cool piece,” she said.
The vision seems startling on the face of it—at best an offering that no one really needs, at worst a perversion of the concept of choice, an infinite scroll of thumbnail-sized images of clothing standing in for a more meaningful version of self-determination. But then, companies offering endless but meaningless choices, in turn requiring endless but meaningless consumption, is hardly new.
In the absence of well-enforced regulations that adapt to the practices of fast-rising global ecommerce companies, the burden of making fashion more ethical will continue to rest largely on individual consumers—a strategy sure to fail.
Contorting the language of equity and justice, viewers would ask: In a world in which the minimum wage isn’t enough to properly live on, can’t Shein’s prices be seen almost as a public service? As ableism and fat-shaming abound on the internet, isn’t Shein a haven for all kinds of bodies?
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, Shein sent customers a push notification with three raised-fist emoji in varying shades of brown. “I had a dream … That every one of all shapes, sizes, and colors can access fashion!” the text read.