Perspective

Perspective

Perspective

Shein is Bad, but so is Classism: The Paradox of Style and Social Media

Shein is Bad, but so is Classism: The Paradox of Style and Social Media

Shein is Bad, but so is Classism: The Paradox of Style and Social Media

Nov 22, 2022

|

12 min

Share Article

Many social media activists have a holier-than-thou mentality but often don’t address the privilege in their perspective. Before we expect others to change we must first do our own due diligence and assess ourselves. This is because radical self-interrogation is the catalyst to change. In this article, I will contextualize the egregious environmental impact of the fast fashion brand Shein, analyze their rapid growth from their business model, and finally provide sustainable alternatives (that won’t break the bank).

“Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege. Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” -- Bell Hooks"

What Businesses Can Learn from Shein

It comes as no surprise that sustainable brands can be very expensive, but that’s not always the reason people don’t shop sustainably. Beyond affordability, many earth-conscious brands lack inclusive sizing. For a person that shops trends, most sustainable brands are minimalist and may not cater to their needs. This is not to say that these mindsets and consumption habits shouldn’t be critiqued, but we must ground ourselves in the reality of consumer behaviors.

The key to innovation is testing and de-risking aspects of a business. When failing fast via experimentation and user testing, the learnings from consumer data are used to continuously improve and iterate. Businesses that fail to do this will quickly become obsolete in the market where consumer behaviors and needs constantly change. Successful entrepreneurs are adaptable and take calculated risks. Implement this mindset in every aspect of a business, from design to advertising to marketing campaigns, etc. Be human-centered; putting the needs of end users at the center of everything, making it the core of the business. Without exploiting workers and violating their rights, of course, I’ll say more about this later, keep reading…

Earlier this year, Shein officially became the largest fashion retailer in the world. Part of the brand’s success is due to the high volume of garments they produce, data-enabled product selection, trend forecasting, inclusive sizing, and convenient shipping protocols. Deviating from unrealistic Eurocentric beauty standards in the fashion industry, Shein carries sizes up to 4X on their site. This is a huge gap in the industry where people of size struggle to find clothes they can wear comfortably and confidently.

Shein also implements a small batch approach, releasing 50-100 of one item; quantifying the success of a product before committing to full production. Listening to what products their consumers want, Shein fulfills the need of chasing trends. Providing the next best instagrammable outfit. The takeaway from this is to implement market research and trend forecasting. Look at social media and see what people are wearing. Watch fashion shows and read about global fashion weeks to see what designers are creating and what fashion buyers are gravitating towards. Go out in the neighborhood and see how people dress in the streets. Inspiration can strike anywhere.

Don’t blatantly steal from smaller designers like Shein - do your research.

[IMAGE]

Consumerism and Cognitive Dissonance

There is a say-do gap in sustainability, consumers have conflicting values. Let’s use littering as a case study. Most agree that littering is bad for the environment, but then why do people still litter? Approaching this as a thought experiment rather than a moral judgment, the answer is one, at its core, about convenience. People don’t litter because they disdain the environment, they litter because of a lack of infrastructure and/or laziness. Laziness is the output of prioritizing convenience above all else.

[IMAGE]

When combining affordability and convenience, it produces fast fashion and corporations like Amazon which utilize this business model that sets a precedent in the hearts and minds of consumers. We expect every business to provide one-day shipping at unreasonably cheap price points. This is an unattainable goal as a business without cutting corners in the supply chain: lowering quality, and most concerningly, exploiting workers and their rights, especially when the division of labor is inequitable to those unseen and at the margins.

Social Media & Instant Gratification

In the digital age of social media, most of us are addicted to the instant gratification of likes, comments, and other metrics that we let influence our self-worth. Comparing ourselves to influencers that have brand deals and unrealistically filtered pristine lives. It is then as a result, we buy clothes for a specific occasion like an event, and on a conscious or subconscious level, a photo opportunity. Wearing garments for a couple of uses and then discarding them. Ending up in a landfill producing harmful gasses that degrade the environment.

  • We live in an ocular-centric society.

  • We want to be better than others, dress better, and have a better style.

  • All for the Instagram-able moment.

  • Who is most harmed by this “approach” to fashion?

Inflation and Worker Exploitation

The price of goods increases as wages remain stagnant. The modern consumer shops deals. They are looking for the cheapest option. If consumers like their purchase, it's a bargain - if they didn't, it was only $5, limiting their buyer's remorse.

We know the price but what was The True Cost?


Nov 22, 2022

|

12 min

Share Article

Many social media activists have a holier-than-thou mentality but often don’t address the privilege in their perspective. Before we expect others to change we must first do our own due diligence and assess ourselves. This is because radical self-interrogation is the catalyst to change. In this article, I will contextualize the egregious environmental impact of the fast fashion brand Shein, analyze their rapid growth from their business model, and finally provide sustainable alternatives (that won’t break the bank).

“Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege. Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” -- Bell Hooks"

What Businesses Can Learn from Shein

It comes as no surprise that sustainable brands can be very expensive, but that’s not always the reason people don’t shop sustainably. Beyond affordability, many earth-conscious brands lack inclusive sizing. For a person that shops trends, most sustainable brands are minimalist and may not cater to their needs. This is not to say that these mindsets and consumption habits shouldn’t be critiqued, but we must ground ourselves in the reality of consumer behaviors.

The key to innovation is testing and de-risking aspects of a business. When failing fast via experimentation and user testing, the learnings from consumer data are used to continuously improve and iterate. Businesses that fail to do this will quickly become obsolete in the market where consumer behaviors and needs constantly change. Successful entrepreneurs are adaptable and take calculated risks. Implement this mindset in every aspect of a business, from design to advertising to marketing campaigns, etc. Be human-centered; putting the needs of end users at the center of everything, making it the core of the business. Without exploiting workers and violating their rights, of course, I’ll say more about this later, keep reading…

Earlier this year, Shein officially became the largest fashion retailer in the world. Part of the brand’s success is due to the high volume of garments they produce, data-enabled product selection, trend forecasting, inclusive sizing, and convenient shipping protocols. Deviating from unrealistic Eurocentric beauty standards in the fashion industry, Shein carries sizes up to 4X on their site. This is a huge gap in the industry where people of size struggle to find clothes they can wear comfortably and confidently.

Shein also implements a small batch approach, releasing 50-100 of one item; quantifying the success of a product before committing to full production. Listening to what products their consumers want, Shein fulfills the need of chasing trends. Providing the next best instagrammable outfit. The takeaway from this is to implement market research and trend forecasting. Look at social media and see what people are wearing. Watch fashion shows and read about global fashion weeks to see what designers are creating and what fashion buyers are gravitating towards. Go out in the neighborhood and see how people dress in the streets. Inspiration can strike anywhere.

Don’t blatantly steal from smaller designers like Shein - do your research.

[IMAGE]

Consumerism and Cognitive Dissonance

There is a say-do gap in sustainability, consumers have conflicting values. Let’s use littering as a case study. Most agree that littering is bad for the environment, but then why do people still litter? Approaching this as a thought experiment rather than a moral judgment, the answer is one, at its core, about convenience. People don’t litter because they disdain the environment, they litter because of a lack of infrastructure and/or laziness. Laziness is the output of prioritizing convenience above all else.

[IMAGE]

When combining affordability and convenience, it produces fast fashion and corporations like Amazon which utilize this business model that sets a precedent in the hearts and minds of consumers. We expect every business to provide one-day shipping at unreasonably cheap price points. This is an unattainable goal as a business without cutting corners in the supply chain: lowering quality, and most concerningly, exploiting workers and their rights, especially when the division of labor is inequitable to those unseen and at the margins.

Social Media & Instant Gratification

In the digital age of social media, most of us are addicted to the instant gratification of likes, comments, and other metrics that we let influence our self-worth. Comparing ourselves to influencers that have brand deals and unrealistically filtered pristine lives. It is then as a result, we buy clothes for a specific occasion like an event, and on a conscious or subconscious level, a photo opportunity. Wearing garments for a couple of uses and then discarding them. Ending up in a landfill producing harmful gasses that degrade the environment.

  • We live in an ocular-centric society.

  • We want to be better than others, dress better, and have a better style.

  • All for the Instagram-able moment.

  • Who is most harmed by this “approach” to fashion?

Inflation and Worker Exploitation

The price of goods increases as wages remain stagnant. The modern consumer shops deals. They are looking for the cheapest option. If consumers like their purchase, it's a bargain - if they didn't, it was only $5, limiting their buyer's remorse.

We know the price but what was The True Cost?


Nov 22, 2022

|

12 min

Share Article

Many social media activists have a holier-than-thou mentality but often don’t address the privilege in their perspective. Before we expect others to change we must first do our own due diligence and assess ourselves. This is because radical self-interrogation is the catalyst to change. In this article, I will contextualize the egregious environmental impact of the fast fashion brand Shein, analyze their rapid growth from their business model, and finally provide sustainable alternatives (that won’t break the bank).

“Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege. Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” -- Bell Hooks"

What Businesses Can Learn from Shein

It comes as no surprise that sustainable brands can be very expensive, but that’s not always the reason people don’t shop sustainably. Beyond affordability, many earth-conscious brands lack inclusive sizing. For a person that shops trends, most sustainable brands are minimalist and may not cater to their needs. This is not to say that these mindsets and consumption habits shouldn’t be critiqued, but we must ground ourselves in the reality of consumer behaviors.

The key to innovation is testing and de-risking aspects of a business. When failing fast via experimentation and user testing, the learnings from consumer data are used to continuously improve and iterate. Businesses that fail to do this will quickly become obsolete in the market where consumer behaviors and needs constantly change. Successful entrepreneurs are adaptable and take calculated risks. Implement this mindset in every aspect of a business, from design to advertising to marketing campaigns, etc. Be human-centered; putting the needs of end users at the center of everything, making it the core of the business. Without exploiting workers and violating their rights, of course, I’ll say more about this later, keep reading…

Earlier this year, Shein officially became the largest fashion retailer in the world. Part of the brand’s success is due to the high volume of garments they produce, data-enabled product selection, trend forecasting, inclusive sizing, and convenient shipping protocols. Deviating from unrealistic Eurocentric beauty standards in the fashion industry, Shein carries sizes up to 4X on their site. This is a huge gap in the industry where people of size struggle to find clothes they can wear comfortably and confidently.

Shein also implements a small batch approach, releasing 50-100 of one item; quantifying the success of a product before committing to full production. Listening to what products their consumers want, Shein fulfills the need of chasing trends. Providing the next best instagrammable outfit. The takeaway from this is to implement market research and trend forecasting. Look at social media and see what people are wearing. Watch fashion shows and read about global fashion weeks to see what designers are creating and what fashion buyers are gravitating towards. Go out in the neighborhood and see how people dress in the streets. Inspiration can strike anywhere.

Don’t blatantly steal from smaller designers like Shein - do your research.

[IMAGE]

Consumerism and Cognitive Dissonance

There is a say-do gap in sustainability, consumers have conflicting values. Let’s use littering as a case study. Most agree that littering is bad for the environment, but then why do people still litter? Approaching this as a thought experiment rather than a moral judgment, the answer is one, at its core, about convenience. People don’t litter because they disdain the environment, they litter because of a lack of infrastructure and/or laziness. Laziness is the output of prioritizing convenience above all else.

[IMAGE]

When combining affordability and convenience, it produces fast fashion and corporations like Amazon which utilize this business model that sets a precedent in the hearts and minds of consumers. We expect every business to provide one-day shipping at unreasonably cheap price points. This is an unattainable goal as a business without cutting corners in the supply chain: lowering quality, and most concerningly, exploiting workers and their rights, especially when the division of labor is inequitable to those unseen and at the margins.

Social Media & Instant Gratification

In the digital age of social media, most of us are addicted to the instant gratification of likes, comments, and other metrics that we let influence our self-worth. Comparing ourselves to influencers that have brand deals and unrealistically filtered pristine lives. It is then as a result, we buy clothes for a specific occasion like an event, and on a conscious or subconscious level, a photo opportunity. Wearing garments for a couple of uses and then discarding them. Ending up in a landfill producing harmful gasses that degrade the environment.

  • We live in an ocular-centric society.

  • We want to be better than others, dress better, and have a better style.

  • All for the Instagram-able moment.

  • Who is most harmed by this “approach” to fashion?

Inflation and Worker Exploitation

The price of goods increases as wages remain stagnant. The modern consumer shops deals. They are looking for the cheapest option. If consumers like their purchase, it's a bargain - if they didn't, it was only $5, limiting their buyer's remorse.

We know the price but what was The True Cost?


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