Fashion Chinese Shein swells more valuable than H&M and Zara combined – Tiktok sensation launches 6,000 new products every day and now faces criticism and boycotts

Shein is the world’s largest online-only fashion company. The company, which sells huge and rapidly renewing collections at cheap prices, has been blacklisted by responsibility players.

Flower dress with puff sleeves: 7 euros.

Faux leather coverall: 9 euros.

Blazer jacket: 11 euros.

As the rake of Shein’s endless range of fashion stores wonders, one wonders: How can this be so cheap?

And unless the reader of this story is a woman under the age of 30 using social media, another question may arise: What the hell is Shein?

The Chinese fashion online store does not appear in the street view of cities because it does not have any stores of its own. Instead, Shein targets her marketing to young adults at Tiktok and Instagram. The brand itself has millions of followers in Tiktok and 24 million in Instagram.

The fashion company Shein manufactures clothing in China, but trades the products through the app to its European and US customers.

Shein has grown into the largest startup in the world. News agency Bloomberg Shein said last week that Shein’s latest round of financing could increase the company’s market capitalization to around € 92 billion.

The sum is more than the combined market values ​​of the fast fashion chain H&M and the Spanish Inditex behind Zara. H&M is worth about EUR 21 billion and Inditex EUR 63 billion. Shein could also double in value to the size of Fast Retailing, Japan’s parent company Uniqlo.

Shein, who has been operating since 2012, was originally known as She Inside. From the very beginning, some Finnish social media influencers also talked about cheap fashion online shopping.

The company has embarked on a real growth alliance during the corona pandemic as people moved to shop more online. In 2020, Shein’s sales increased to just over nine billion euros. It is the largest online-only fashion company.

Fast fashion has been criticized for years for its harmful effects on the environment and the exploitation of cheap labor.

It is estimated that the fashion industry emits 4-10% of the world’s CO2 emissions. In addition, the sector is a major producer of plastic waste and causes damage to water bodies.

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Known for its cheap prices, Shein brings thousands more new products to her online store every day. Shein specializes in creating new collections and products in a matter of days if it notices a new trend rising. On the site, discounts are attached to time counters that tell you how many minutes the customer has to take advantage of the offer.

These things encourage you to buy a lot and make buying decisions quickly.

“We are really trying to get people to buy a lot of clothes cheaply,” says Finnwatch’s researcher Anu Kultalahti says.

“If prices are really cheap, it can’t be sustainable production because it’s not enough to cover the costs of sustainable production, like adequate wages,” Kultalahti says of fast fashion in general.

Shein is also associated with the Shein Haul phenomenon on social media, where influencers buy or “flatten” numerous pieces of clothing with videos and showcase the fit of the clothes they get cheaply.

When assessing the environmental impact of the clothing industry, it can be said that the fewer uses garments receive or endure, the more worrying the responsibility is. Kultalahti is generally concerned if the trend in fast-fashion consumption continues to expand.

“I would say that fast fashion has to be abandoned, especially for climate reasons. The fast-fashion consumption model is not sustainable. ”

Made by the Finnish Textile and Fashion Association last year Global climate impacts of the Finnish textile and fashion industry According to the study, a longer lifespan for clothing could reduce emissions in the sector by around 46%.

Fashion industry and the Good on You Group, which assesses the responsibility of clothing brands urges to avoid shopping from the Shein online store due to, among other things, shortcomings related to its environmental impact, working conditions and animal welfare.

Shein has received the worst possible rating from the group, like Boohoon and Forever 21, for example. Zara’s liability issues are rated at a slightly higher level on a five-point scale, while H & M’s responsibility issues are moderate, according to the site.

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On the other hand, the H&M chain has also come under public pressure for a long time and the company has said it will change its operations, especially with regard to sustainable and ecological materials.

According to Kultalahti, it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the company’s responsibility on Shein’s website.

“There is quite a bit of information and it is not very convincing. There is no information about the origin of individual products or raw materials, ”says Kultalahti.

The company says that it uses recycled fabrics to the best of its ability, but compared to that, according to Kultalahti, there seems to be a shortage of clothes made from, for example, recycled cotton. In addition, Shein does not disclose information about its subcontractors or how production responsibility is monitored.

The company says it will initially produce only a few dozen products and increase production according to demand. At the same time, it is good to remember that thousands of new products are added to the huge range of different products every day.

Shein has had a number of fuss over the issue of responsibility, on the basis of which the company has said it is making improvements. In the summer of 2020, Shein was reported to have sold prayer rugs used by Muslims as “Greek rugs,” which the company regretted. Shortly afterwards, it became apparent that Shein’s selection included a necklace with a swastika. Shein apologized for this as well, saying it was not a Nazi jewelry, but the model was derived from a Buddhist symbol.

NGO Public Eye published A report on Shein’s operations last year found the company to work overtime and some employees have no employment contract at all. The report also addressed the quality of some products, which left much to be desired. According to Public Eye, Shein has also been found to have copied clothing models designed by others.

Shein only talks about her responsibilities at a general level, but says she does charity work and directs money to various projects.

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“In this way, the company cannot compensate for the human rights and environmental risks associated with the production of clothing,” says Kultalahti.

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In Finland The Consumer Protection Competition and Consumer Protection Agency (KKV) has received one contact related to Shein regarding the ambiguity in invoicing. Social media discussions and a Public Eye survey have revealed situations where customers don’t go back to return products they don’t want or have flaws because shopping has been so cheap overall.

KKV expert Lenita Ketola In general, the consumer should be particularly careful when ordering products online from outside the European Union. KKV does not comment on Shein’s responsibility aspects.

In the EU, e-commerce is regulated by regional legislation. The regulation relates to, for example, the two-week right of return and the misleading nature of marketing. The product must live up to its promises.

When ordering products from outside the EU, regulations may not apply and in some situations customs duties may come as a surprise.

The rushing atmosphere in an online store can make it difficult to make informed decisions. KKV’s Ketolak emphasizes that it is good for consumers to act calmly and thoughtfully online. However, KKV’s point of view is consumer protection and the avoidance of ambiguities and actual scams, not so much the bonga of unethical practices.

“Consumers may rely on intuition online. It is always worth considering how you react to any impulse and do a little preliminary research about the site and what information is provided there, ”says Ketola.

If a company provides little information about itself or its products, doubts should arise. Clear and direct contact information for customer service should be available in the online store.

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