If this piece of information is going to prove one thing, it’s the fact that the road towards sustainable and cruelty-free fashion is still long and far from being reached. According to a study led by monkey.co.uk, a free online service that allows you to compare thousands of financial products, Chinese retailer Shein is this year’s most Googled clothing label in the world, making it the most popular fashion brand of 2022
Founded in 2008, the American search engine found that the Nanjing-born enterprise was the most searched brand in 113 countries, overtaking Spanish-owned Zara (26), now in second place. And, it surpasses its rivals by quite a mile. In third position, German shoe retailer Zalando topped in 18 countries, while sportswear brands Nike and Adidas followed in fourth and fifth spots, respectively, leading in 10 and eight countries.
To this day, efforts are being made to try and halt Shein’s rapid rise by raising awareness and calling to boycott the low-cost brand. Most of the criticism made against the online boutique focus on the slashed price tags and their ensuing consequence on workers as well as the planet. As you have probably guessed already, cheap fees most times lead to unethical working conditions, as well as the use of environmentally detrimental chemicals and harmful materials.
In other words, discounted prices are the ideal gateway to an avalanche of human rights breaches and violations, which has been, and still is, Shein’s biggest problem. Controversies surrounding the fast fashion brand’s name are almost weekly and far from being shunned away from the public’s eye. From some of the label’s cotton being produced from the Xinjiang region, where China is accused of detaining a million Uyghur Muslims, workers putting through 18-hour-shifts for $0.04 a garment, and an almost unquantifiable negative impact on the planet, the list of wrongdoings doesn’t end there.
In 2021, Hayden, an Egyptian luxury lifestyle brand founded by fashion designer Shaddy Ellian, got one of its designs knocked off and put up for sale with no prior agreement or consent, which leads us to ask: how is Shein so popular with such a horrendous track record?
I’m so mad & furious over @SHEIN_official for STEALING MY DESIGN & the audacity they used my picture on their website. They couldn’t even change one thing & now it’s their highest selling item since this piece went viral. PLEASE SHARE as i believe social media can make a change pic.twitter.com/M2awMg1qjA
— ellianJr. (@JrEllian) December 26, 2021
At a time when most parts of the world are currently experiencing a cost of living crisis, as prices are reaching unpredictable highs while salaries are not nudging at all, many are turning to fast fashion as a last resort to affordable clothing. Ethics are pushed back to second in importance as consumers, worldwide, are cornered by their purchasing power and have to rethink how much room activism will take in their daily lives and routines. With a global situation that is far from getting any better, how much further do we have to go before blowing the whistle, calling it enough, and actually start doing something about the ongoing status quo?