Opinion: Fast fashion is unethical and should be avoided

Zara Ducker, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Fast fashion clothing companies have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Critics of these companies focus on their negative impact on the environment and their use of unethical child labor. However, many people have a difficult time deciding where to shop because fast fashion companies are affordable, whereas sustainable brands are often financially out of reach. I believe that the fast fashion industry is unethical and that we must try our hardest to stop supporting them. 

Large fast fashion companies such as Shein, Romwe and Zaful, which are all from the same manufacturer, sell thousands of mass produced clothing items. They sell everything from swimwear to clothing to toys and much more. Their products are very cheap and are among the most affordable items in the fashion market. 

These companies also sell many knockoffs of popular clothing items, so those who are unable to afford the real piece have a chance to buy a similar piece for a lower price. However, the quality reflects the price and the items tend not to be as nice or as well constructed as the original. I would recommend that you buy less and instead buy quality pieces that are going to last you a long time.  

In addition, these products pose an environmental issue. Many of Shein’s products are trend-forward and cheap, meaning that most people will end up throwing away the pieces once the trend ends. Many of these pieces also break quickly and end up in landfills which is harmful for the environment. 

Fast fashion companies like Shein also have a negative impact on the environment because they are mass producing thousands of products and greatly increase pollution worldwide. For this reason, consumers should stop buying from them and instead buy from more sustainable brands if they are financially able. 

Shein also receives a lot of criticism for being unethical due to its use of child labor. According to sources such as Studybreak.com, Shein has young children working in poor labor conditions across the world for little pay, however, they are transparent about it on their website. The use of child labor is not specific to Shein, it is used in many popular fast fashion companies such as H&M and Forever 21. I suggest you do your own research on the company and others like it before buying from them.

On the other hand, many ethical clothing brands, such as Reformation, are very expensive compared to fast fashion companies like Shein. For example, Reformation’s ethically made bathing suits cost around $136, while Shein sells a very similar looking bathing suit for $12. It is understandable why people still shop at Shein despite their many controversies because they sell inexpensive and cute clothing that many people could not afford if it was made ethically.

I would recommend that you think more carefully about your purchases and try to shop at ethical brands if you can or shop second hand, as it is better for the environment and does not support the use of child labor. Some good ethical and sustainable clothing brands are Shekou, Pangia, Patagonia and Levi’s.