The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Molly Cook
A group of individuals wearing (presumably) fast fashion. Image created by Bing Image Creator. Photo courtesy of Molly Cook.

Fast Fashion Flaws

Constantly wanting to keep up with trends seems to be a dilemma some Gen Z and Millennial women face. Inexpensive clothes–or clothes that often have sales or deals–are easy to find, especially with the emergence of Shein and Temu, which sell fad clothes that appear similar to those at Forever 21 or Zara for a fraction of the price.

What many buyers don’t realize, however, is that although this may sound like a steal, these clothes are generally poorly made, and at least some of the brands they sell have been accused of using unethical labor and of stealing and selling personal information from their shoppers.

Shein and Temu have recently exploded in popularity, as they are trendy, “on hand” and inexpensive, with prices averaging $3-$5 for a top. These stores are either loved, as they allow consumers to keep up with trends without spending too much money, or hated because of their unethical practices. For example, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, “Both companies stand accused of terrible labor practices. At best, SHEIN and Temu are likely reliant on sweatshop labor for goods. But there’s plenty of evidence that both are utilizing forced labor in their product lines, too.”

Many news sites, including CBS News, BBC, NPR, and The New York Times just to name a few, appear to agree.

“The company is now facing almost every sort of legal complaint you could imagine: labor ethics, copyright, import tax. It’s also one of the fastest-growing online retailers,” said NPR journalist Alina Selyukh in an article about Shein.

The revelations of these legal complaints has led to an increase in consumer dislike of the brands, as shown through the thousands of scathing negative reviews or internet posts from around the world. Other people who have issues with Shein or Temu are thrifters, people who go to second hand stores looking for good quality clothes or vintage items. Throughout the blooming of Shein, some people on Instagram and Tiktok have complained that Shein is taking over the shelves in thrift stores. Where thrifters could once find name-brand, used clothing for a fraction of the regular price, they are now only finding fast-fashion items with a short lifespan. Many of the items purchased off Temu, Shein, and similar sites or apps are short-lived, as the clothing is created for a quick outfit, like when a teenage girl doesn’t want to repeat outfits every couple of weeks.

The complaints about Temu are similar. Like Shein, this brand has been alleged to have poor quality products and to use forced labor, particularly members of the Muslim Uyghur minorites in China’s Xinjing province. In an article published on Blue Marble entited “How Shein and Temu get around US labor laws that ban products made with forced labor,” writer Hope O’Dell noted the following: “An estimated 100,000 Uyghurs and other ethnic minority ex-detainees in China may be working in conditions of forced labor following detention in re-education camps.” O’Dell goes on to note that 16% of cotton clothes in the U.S. had cotton from Xinjiang province.

CBS News and BBC have both written articles about Temu that focus on their alleged lack of safe working conditions and use of unethical labor. The BBC notes that Temu is proud to “slay the e-commerce dragons from the United States, like Amazon.” Since Temu’s boom in business, they have gained a net worth of $150 billion, much of it allegedly on the backs of those who work in the equivalet of sweatshops.

So some argue that Temu gains while customers lose greatly, particularly in the form of a loss of privacy. There are many claims that Temu has stolen information, including names, phone numbers, and social security numbers, from its buyers. CBS News has tied this information gathering to their location in China. This raises concerns for scammers or other online frauds, as Temu collects a large amount of data.

“They build a file on you,” said Steve Bernas, CEO of Chicago’s Better Business Bureau (a non-profit dedicated to increasing marketplace trust). Dorothy Tucker, a journalist at CBS 2 in Chicago, also added, “What’s yours is likely to become Temu’s.”

Concern is still continuing to grow, as more and more information on these fast fashion brands are being uncovered. Some consumers just shrug, focusing on getting a good deal. But making informed choices and thinking about the impact you can make by choosing to not support brands like Temu and Shein is crucial, including to the environment. In an article on, reporter Rashmila Maiti notes that “According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the [fast fashion] industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions–more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.”

Ultimately, the dominance of brands like Temu and Shein seems unlikely to lessen until consumers realize that fast fashion may not be all its cracked up to be.

“Even though [fast fashion] is cheap and I don’t enjoy spending a lot of money, the quality of the products and clothing items are poor.” said junior Marley Rochester. “[The outfits] are so cute, but make me itchy and don’t last long.”

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