Cheap clothing, but what’s the real cost?

Here’s whats hiding behind the price tag of Shein.

The future of fast fashion arrives in a package at our doorstep, weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on how often you scroll to find a new fit. But in the later 2010’s the online shopping mega, known commonly by teens and pre-teens is Shein. A Chinese owned brand that is dominating in the world of online shopping. The company dealt a hand and played it well, making so much clothing that they have the opportunity to cater to all.

Above is an example of the some of the many niches that Shein cover and cater for. But how are they doing this? Cheap labour, cheap material, allegedly ripping off trademark designs and exploiting our spenders pockets with good marketing. Less money spent on two main factors being labour and material means that more money can get splashed into the amount of clothing that is produced.

According to an article on Reuters by Victoria Waldersee, ‘EXCLUSIVE Chinese retailer Shein lacks disclosures, made false statements about factories‘ the company claimed to be “certified by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO)… Shein proudly in compliance with strict labor standards…” The article continues on to point out that ISO canNOT certify other companies, rather they only establish standards. Which invalidates Shein’s post about being “proudly in compliance with strict fair labor standards set by international organizations like SA8000.” Waldersee asked Shein about SA8000 and the post was taken down before any questions were answered.

SA 8000 is a “certification addresses issues including forced and child labour.” Partnering with SGS will than achieve a SA 8000 certification. Shein couldn’t prove their partnership thus taking down the post.

The loopholes in the global market are allowing Shein to pay a minimum amount of import and export tax. Companies like Zara can’t get around these loopholes because “…not shipping to individuals…” rather they are selling to stores in bulk. Shein is able to ship packages around duty-free because there shipments are under $800. The lack of tax and other expenses are allowing Shein to charge their products at cheaper prices and create more profit, undercutting there rivals.

But the larges cut cost factor is outsourcing. Claiming to have “factory workers from around the world.” Shein do not disclose where their factories are placed, so it is difficult to find out the safe working conditions and fair compensation of the workers. The lack of transparency has led to speculations about sweatshops throughout China, but there is no hard evidence to prove this. Shein do well to cover themselves on their website.

If you liked this post about Shein, be sure to check out LWS- the sustainable.

Waldersee, V. (2021) EXCLUSIVE Chinese retailer Shein lacks disclosures, made false statements about factoriesReuters. (Accessed: 2 September 2021).Available at:

SA 8000 – Certification – Social Accountability (2021). (Accessed: 2 September 2021).Available at:

Bloomberg – Are you a robot? (2021). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2021).

The Real Reason Pretty Little Thing Clothes Are So Cheap (2021). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2021).

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