Shein Loses It’s Shine


Isabella Piccolo sits crisscross inside a closet, posing with Shein bought clothes all around her.

Angelina Popov-Easton, Editor

Buying new clothes every two weeks may sound outlandish, but that’s exactly what South Broward High School junior Georgina Paez did. Over the course of two years, Paez would routinely scroll through an app on her phone connected to the fast-fashion company Shein. She purchased everything the site had to offer- frilly shirts, baggy sweatpants, tiny bikinis, and even jewelry, all of which were less than $10 each.

 “I just got obsessed because of how low the prices were,” she said.

 But it turns out the prices were, in fact, too good to be true. According to Paez, she ended up throwing out or donating most of the clothes she bought off the site because the  quality of the clothes was “horrible.”

 “They usually only lasted a couple of weeks before falling apart,” said Paez. “Even though the clothes were cheap, I was losing more money by having to throw them out so often.” 

Now, she likes to get her outfits from higher quality brands like Hollister and a particular boutique store in Miami that she fell in love with.

Paez is just one of many people who have bought their wardrobe from Shein, and while she has since stopped, there are plenty who still cycle through the cheap clothes weekly.

With fashion options ranging from $2 a shirt to $10 a skirt, it’s no wonder cash-strapped  teens spend their time online shopping at fast fashion conglomerates like Shein, AliExpress, and Romwe. 

Although there are many of these companies, none represent the overproduction and consumption cycle of cheap clothing like Shein. Founded in 2008, most of the product was sold locally in China, but it wasn’t until they began marketing their products in the Western Hemisphere that they saw a spike in profit.

 In 2020, Shein posted profits of 9.81 billion dollars but In 2021 profits skyrocketed  60%, grossing a total of 15.7 billion dollars. By May 2021, Shein became the top shopping app on the phones of American citizens, and the company was more profitable than ever.

The low prices of fast fashion companies such as Shein may be attractive to a customer looking for a deal, but many who shop there are often disappointed by the clothing they receive. 

SBHS senior Ariana Genao is very familiar with Shein, and gets most of her clothes from the website. 

“I’ve spent like $400 dollars on Shein,” said Genao. 

Genao recognizes the cheap material of the majority of the clothes she receives, but continues to buy because of the low prices.

“It’s worth it because I’m able to find my style of clothes on Shein and I can’t really get that anywhere else,” said Genao.

Sacrificing the quality of clothes because they’re your style is a choice many people have made since the rise of fast fashion websites like Shein, but the decision may have unforeseen consequences.

According to Business Insider, the fast fashion industry contributes to over 92 million tons of waste every year, with the numbers continuing to rise. In the CNN article CNN estimates the average life expectancy for clothing worn everyday would be more than two years, but statistics posted by the Guardian show most Shein shoppers will throw them out after just a few times wearing them.

Ariela Brody, freshman at South Broward, takes pride in her sustainable fashion choices. Brody gets most, if not all of her clothing from second hand thrift stores. Brody learned about Shein through Tiktok three years ago, but never bought anything from the website.

“Even though the clothes on Shein were cute, I knew how bad fast fashion was for the environment,” said Brody.

Clothes that end up in landfills can take 200 years to fully decompose, and greenhouse gasses and toxins are released in the process. According to the BBC, 85% of clothes in the United States end up in landfills or burned. With the rise of fast fashion in recent years, Brody believes the number will continue to grow.

“The clothes on shein are very trendy, so in a month something you bought could already be out of date, which is why people buy so often,” said Brody.

  Shein caters to the younger generation, and with the internet constantly providing consumers with new fashion micro trends, Shein and other fast fashion companies have to work twice as hard to keep up with the wants of their customers. According to Shein revenue and usage statistics, they produce 2,000 new items a day on average for shoppers to buy. Workers work 18 hours a day for about $3.50 for each piece of clothing made according to a report made by Britain’s Channel 4.

“It’s cruel to put the workers under such bad working conditions to make clothes that’ll be thrown out in a week,” said Brody.

Shein refuted the claims, but Channel 4’s investigation shows evidence of the exploitative conditions described in their report. 

“By the time people realize the damage fast fashion does ove

rall, it’ll be too late to do anything about it,” said Brody.