SHEIN Hauls and Fast Fashion
To be successful as a fashion creator on TikTok you essentially need to post every day. While this is true for almost all social media platforms, TikTok creators are required to wear multiple outfits in one video. This can lead people to assume that being successful on TikTok requires a big wardrobe and a wide range of clothes, causing over-consumption. There is also a stigma attached to outfit-repeating, and because creators post every day, they are pressured to buy new clothes to create new content.
This leads to people seeking the cheapest way to buy new clothes: fast fashion.
SHEIN is the most popular fast fashion clothing brand in the world today. In 2020 alone, SHEIN made $10 billion in sales. What makes SHEIN so popular is that it’s very, very cheap, and while most people associate this brand with pastel coloured swimsuits and low-priced knock-offs of luxury brands, there is a dark side to this company. SHEIN uses unethical labour practises which exploits factory workers to make clothes faster and cheaper than its competition.
Another trend involving fast fashion is ‘a haul’. Commentary YouTuber Mina Lee defines a haul as ‘buying a bulk of clothing all in one go and then sharing the things you bought with your audience’. People would buy a lot of clothing from cheap companies like SHEIN and then do hauls or unboxing videos, try-ons, reviews, etc. Another quote, by YouTuber Salem Tovar sums up the phenomenon that has been occurring on TikTok; ‘there is an obsession and glamorisation of fast fashion because of the over-consumption of it’. This basically means that people are drawn to fast fashion because they can purchase it in large quantities (overconsumption), which is glamorised in society.
But as always, there are two sides to every situation. One of the arguments for supporting fast-fashion is that lower-income people have no other choice but to shop from brands like SHEIN. While this may be true in some cases, lower-income people are not the ones buying $1000 SHEIN hauls and keeping the industry afloat. It is also important to acknowledge that sustainable brands often don’t have inclusive size ranges which can be a barrier for plus size people trying to shop ethically.
The consequence of over-consumption is the negative impact on the environment. The average American throws away 37 kg of clothes every year. Fast fashion garments are mostly constructed of polyester, a type of plastic that takes over 500 years to decompose. This means that all of the fast fashion garments that people buy and throw away each year end up sitting in landfills for literally centuries, and contribute to micro-plastics in the soil and oceans.
I would like to leave you with this - if you have the money and privilege to avoid supporting fast-fashion, please do so.