Almost all of us are familiar with SHEIN—the online retail giant that’s gone viral on TikTok and is seemingly almost everywhere on social media. Its online presence and reach is immense, especially with its target demographic being the typical Gen Z looking for trendy and fashionable items at low prices, and is for some reason part of our algorithms at least once a day.
SHEIN’s mission, as they’ve mentioned on their website, is to “offer quality stylish products at appealing prices” and prides themselves as the “ultimate one-stop-shop for the modern and the economical fashionista”, having surpassed H&M and Zara in fast fashion sales. While that’s partly the reason why the brand has become so popular among Gen Z, it is also quite infamous for one thing that should make you drop it from your future retail therapy hauls.
In case you haven’t heard of it before, SHEIN has been stealing the designs of small business owners and designers. In a Tweet shared on June 12, 2021, @MariamaDiallo_ aired her sentiments about brands stealing designs from Black designers, showing a side-by-side comparison of her design and SHEIN’s product.
Im SO over these major brands stealing from black designers. @SHEIN_official STOLE my @sincerelyriaxo designs to a T. They couldn’t even change ONE thing and it’s now one of their highest selling items. They even stole the brands aesthetic. Like Come on pic.twitter.com/ose8DiM9hK
— Mariama Diallo ✨ (@MariamaDiallo__) June 11, 2021
Another Tweet by @TheElleyy shared on July 17, 2021 expressed her dismay over SHEIN stealing her crocheted sweater design which she worked hard on by hand, and also posted both her work and SHEIN’s product.
Tonight I feel crushed, @SHEIN_official has stolen my Amelia sweater design.
Spent hours designing and brainstorming this design and it takes days to crochet each sweater. It’s quite disheartening to see my hard work reduced to a machine made copy. 💔 pic.twitter.com/vLagM3WiKq
— _ (@TheElleyy) July 16, 2021
In response to both Tweets, users have been calling out SHEIN for their unethical practices and are telling others to stop supporting the Chinese-owned brand. SHEIN was also found out to have an email address where people can direct their concerns to if they see their designs on their site, which is evidence enough to say that stealing designs is common practice for them.
In fact, SHEIN’s fast fashion business model isn’t sustainable and environment-friendly at all. There’s no evidence of the company’s policies or supply chain structure, making it all very mysterious and bizarre. In order to stay updated on the latest fashion trends and to bring it to the market, SHEIN would be producing thousands over thousands of ill-fitting clothing.
According to goodonyou.eco, brands (like SHEIN) who “mass-produce cheap and poorly made clothing encourage a throwaway fashion culture simply by existing.”
If you think that this doesn’t happen to local businesses, then you’re wrong. SHEIN has also stolen designs from small Philippine business owners and designers, like @reclamare.ph’s Mercedes top, and @purls_ph’s version of @moonchain’s design.
Upon asking Carmela Gonzales, the owner of Reclamare PH, she had already been aware of SHEIN stealing art from designers and artists so she’s been boycotting the brand ever since. Seeing her work copied and stolen by SHEIN had made her feel disrespected, forgotten, and stepped on as a local designer and creator, as her hard work and effort had been reduced to a screenshot for manufacturers to mass produce.
When asked on how she would caution other small businesses to promote their own designs while big names like SHEIN are stealing work from unknown artists, Carmela said that one should not only look after themselves, but for the whole community. She said that a fellow small business owner was the one that informed her of SHEIN’s copycat work and was thankful to her for having her back.
Carmela also mentioned that when one focuses on the community aspect of being a small business, one can feel safe in knowing that the entire community will support them in times of need. Carmela said that in urging people to email or boycott brands like SHEIN to take down their listing of stolen designs, that’s when small businesses gain small victories.
It’s up to you whether you’d like to continue supporting and purchasing from SHEIN—seeing how their prices are “wallet-friendly” in a time where money is hard-earned. However, please do think about the small businesses they’re stealing designs from. These people work hard from conceptualizing and brainstorming designs down to its creation, while SHEIN just takes their designs effortlessly without any compensation.
Do brands like SHEIN deserve your money when they’re not even working hard in creating designs for its own clothes? I don’t think so.
Bottomline, just drop SHEIN. They’re not worth your money.
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