What does Shein's $100 billion valuation mean for the future of climate change?
Over the last two decades we have begun to view fashion as disposable, with fast fashion brands like Boohoo, Zara, H&M and Shein dominating the industry space, catering to micro-trends at incredibly low prices.
Things have stepped up a notch...
The fast fashion giant, Shein has spun the fashion industry on its head this month with a $100 billion valuation after seeking investment, but what does this mean for the state of the fashion industry?
Money = Power
The recent valuation far surpasses the value of Zara and H&M... combined.
Shein have an AI-driven supply chain, resulting in it's ability to churn out products at rapid speeds and selling for jaw-dropping low prices which means they have gained significant market share, making up 13% of the total fast fashion industry at the beginning of 2021.
This AI supply chain means that Shein are able to scrape social media for any glimpse of fashion trends making waves across the internet and immediately imitates them to meet consumer demand with just a three day lead time!
But how did a relatively unknown e-commerce brand become a market dominator in the global fashion industry so quickly?
Firstly, Shein plays a numbers game. It is still unknown whether it actually makes a profit but we do know that they operate with ultra-thin margins, possibly only making a slither of profit on each garment sold, but if enough garments are sold these numbers add up resulting in billions of dollars worth of sales
Super-Low Prices. As soon as you open the Shein website, you're hit with dresses sold for £10 or t-shirts at £3. These prices are incredibly appealing to younger generations, like students who are out a lot and 'can't possibly wear the same thing again'
Addictive App. In recent months, we saw Shein top the list of the most downloaded shopping apps in Apple's App Store, according to Similarweb. The app benefits from its gamification features like a point reward system when customers login, leave reviews or share looks on social media, encouraging shoppers to return time and time again
Style over saving the environment. Shein have recognised that their consumers value their money over everything else when it comes to fashion. With a predominantly young target audience, still in school and with very little disposable income while consumed by trends and ever evolving social media expectations meaning that whilst they are the generation claiming to be most concerned for climate action, they are also the ones driving Shein's dominance
The rising cost of living has meant most of us are strapped for cash, however we don't want to compromise on style or trends, therefore some are tempted to look to brands like Shein to satisfy their need for trendy yet affordable products, again fuelling Shein's market dominance.
With market share comes money and with money comes power, a dangerous force when used in a destructive way.
Save your style or save the environment?
The disruptive force of digital within fashion means that supply chains get more efficient, and we are continually exposed to trends via brands like Shein.
Even those of us who recognise the destructive nature of brands like Shein find ourselves compelled to scroll through their app or website, lured in by cheap prices and stylish clothes. This speaks volumes to the power of Shein.
One Polyester dress ALONE releases 17kg of Co2 into the atmosphere, Shein sells millions of Polyester dresses every year...
That's just dresses, from just one fast fashion brand.
We are faced with the issue of whether to be stylish 24/7 or whether to save the environment and make a stand against giant corporations like Shein who decimate any environmental progression made.
Sadly for most people, desire outweighs consciousness and we fall into the quick sand that is fast fashion.
The future of climate change
22.04.22 marked the 50th Earth Day celebrated in every corner of the world in the hope of raising awareness of the continuing environmental destruction happening across the globe. We are reminded of the harrowing effects climate change has on the world around us, from increasing temperatures, to life threatening storms, famine and species extinction!
The majority of the fashion industry recognise the need for more sustainable strategies, with substantial impact only happening if brands slow down and challenge themselves. Most of us will be hopeful for Shein to do the same, however in an interview with Business of Fashion, Shein's head of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) said that Shein's cheap, fast fashion "Is our core business model and I don't think that's going to change."
This is a sad prediction that fast fashion brands will only continue to fuel the disposable economy in favour of profits and market dominance, unless we take the power out of their hands...