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Finding Authenticity in Today’s Fashion World

Finding+Authenticity+in+Todays+Fashion+World

When you’re mapping out your outfit for the day, do you ever look further into where it’s made? More importantly, do you understand the brand’s ideals? The growth of social media has made online shopping more efficient and readily available. Within a few clicks, consumers can have a list of online orders ready to be shipped at their front door. However, the reality is that these clothes are worn, torn and eventually end up with the seventeen million tons of textile waste made by the US alone, according to The United States Environmental Protection Agency. Furthermore, taking a behind-the-scenes lens in clothing production will reveal rising concerns about unhealthy working conditions like the case of the clothing brand Shein. More needs to be done to alleviate problems in the textile industry. In order to reform this system, companies as well as consumers need clearer communication. Authenticity is an important value in the textile industry to shed light on reforming labor laws, as well as informing sustainable clothing methods. 

Transparency is an increasingly important concept in today’s world. Collin’s Dictionary’s word of the year was “AI”, highlighting the development of intelligent online tools. Similarly, Cambridge chose “hallucinate” to comment on the spread of false information through AI. Merriam-Webster defined their word as “authenticity,” an encompassing term, which enormous clothing brand Shein struggles to aspire to. 

Shein is a national clothing brand that provides millions of items mostly to developed countries like the United States. Limited labor regulation in addition to such a large quantity of clothing production, explains Shein’s history of suppressing accusations about harmful working conditions. According to NPR, some workers labor under eighteen hour shifts. Shipped clothes were also found to have toxic chemical like lead and phthalates (a chemical to enhance plastic durability). This lack of clarity between Shein and their customers shows their profitable dive into consumerism which is the rapid production of goods, deemed socially and economically desirable for customer interests, according to Merriam-Webster. Shein willingly exploits their workers in hopes to continue growing and developing.

To free themselves from bad press, influencers were flown to China in an attempt to disprove these allegations. I feel that Shein wasted their money providing an all-inclusive trip. I understand that this is a once in a lifetime experience for these influencers – who would want to pass up the chance to have free transportation, food and dwelling in a foreign country? But this pushes away attention from Shein workers’ livelihood to purely highlight an influencer tour that benefits only the people on the trip. This doesn’t help alleviate workers in need of aid. Companies are lacking in honesty and authenticity.

It can be hard being authentic as social media continues to be heavily used for advertising business. The best way to liberate textile workers is by owning to these claims. This will bring upon action to create regulations for employers to abide by, in hopes to make a better workplace environment. Knowing the conditions workers operate in, the environmental impact that Shein has pumped out should be addressed as well. 

In the case of consumerism, Shein shoppers don’t usually buy out of necessity, but want to keep up with fashion trends. This is easily depicted by a quick search on youtube. Renz Breen recalls the experience of watching a video titled ​​Shein Haul! Over $500 worth of clothes, In the article The Evil Fashion Giant: Shein and the Perpetuation of Overconsumption. Buying clothes in itself isn’t something bad, but done excessively, incentivises unsustainability in personal finance and the external environment. Online advertisement fueled by content creators and the companies themselves result in consumer purchases that are rarely valued. 

I buy most of my clothes with the intention of sustaining them for many years. Fast fashion promoters like Shein shy away from this idea, producing clothes that come and go. Moreover, Shein is known for their cheaper prices, which directly relates to their level of quality and material care. To prevent the increasing waste production from clothes, customers should take action by venturing out to other outlets. Thrifting is an accessible option for people to venture out of their comfort zone; it’s a great place to explore your sense of style. Unlike leisurely scrolling through endless images of clothes on a screen, physically going to thrift shops to analyze your options ensures that your purchases are meaningful, limiting compulsive buying. 

Understanding where your clothes come from is important to recognize ill practices from such influential companies like Shein. From the influencer stunt, customers can be aware of the tactics used to inauthentically gain online trust. The existence of thrifting has shifted from not only low income communities, but to informed Gen-Z’s that want to make a difference by shopping secondhand clothing. Implementing international laws to stop employee mistreatment may seem out of reach, but the catalysis for change begins in small steps. The future begins at the individual level – you. Start by doing careful research in the brands you buy, or shopping at local, sustainable outlets.

 

Citations

“Consumerism Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 7 Dec. 2023,

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consumerism.

Lloyd, Annika, et al. “The Evil Fashion Giant: Shein and the Perpetuation of Overconsumption.”

Podcast Perspectives of Environmental Geopolitics, University of Kansas, 10 Nov.2022, https://opentext.ku.edu/environmentalgeopolitics/chapter/evil-fashion-giant-shein/ 

Romo, Vanessa. “Shein Invited Influencers on an All-Expenses-Paid Trip. Here’s Why People 

Are Livid.” NPR, NPR, 30 June 2023,

www.npr.org/2023/06/30/1184974003/shein-influencers-china-factory-trip-backlash

“Textiles: Material-Specific Data | US EPA.” US Environmental Protection Agency, 22 Nov. 

2023,www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-materi

al-spec fic-data.

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