Earlier this month, news of SHEIN's reported $100 billion valuation cast a bleak shadow over the future of fashion retail, the garment industry's impact on global warming, and the livelihood of independent designers ruthlessly ripped off by the fast fashion behemoth.
If you were hoping I'd soften the blow with some marginally better news, I regret to inform you that SHEIN's grip on the garment industry (and social media) likely won't loosen any time soon.
As Highsnobiety's very own Jake Silbert wrote, everyone knows that the e-tailer's exploitation of garment workers, staggeringly high output of new styles, and poor quality are, to put it lightly, bad. Still, someone's buying — in fact, a lot of people are buying, given the company's valuation.
SHEIN's appeal rests in its ability to "recreate" runway fashion at dirt-cheap prices. But if you thought luxury fashion houses and indie designers were the only victims of SHEIN's garment machine, think again: as evidenced by a deluge of TikTok content, the brand even copies its fast fashion competitors.
Basically: SHEIN is a dupe of a dupe. It doesn't get more soulless than that.
Under the hashtags #zaravsshein and #zaradupe, TikTokers present side-by-side try-ons of virtually identical garments from Zara and SHEIN. While most would shudder at the thought of seeking out Zara knock-offs, SHEIN's faithful recreations are presented as some sort of life hack for enterprising shoppers.
Online, it seems no one is ashamed to show off SHEIN hauls or Zara dupes, even with the environmental and ethical implications that any fashion fashion purchase holds.
As dystopian as it is, SHEIN's $10 billion valuation shouldn't come as a shock. Proof of its problematic popularity is out in the open — or at least right behind your screen.