TikTok Influencers Act as Propagandists for China’s Fast Fashion – The American Spectator
Fast fashion company Shein received blowback after social media influencers attended its sponsored brand trip, touring its “innovation center,” according to CNN.
The company has a history of shady business practices, in part because its clothing prices are extraordinarily low. Trendy dresses can sell for as little as $6. Influencers appear to be running cover for the group, whether they know it or not. (READ MORE: Welcome to the Age of Political Capitalism)
An investigation by Bloomberg found that Shein uses cotton from the Xinjiang region of China — which the United States Department of Labor officially called out for using forced labor by a detained Uyghur minority population. (They [sic] company didn’t directly dispute the findings and told Bloomberg that they work to ‘ensure we comply with local laws and regulations.’ [sic]
However, employing the minority Uyghur population is not consumers’ only complaint with Shein. CNN reports that social media users dislike the environmental waste the company produces:
Around 85% of clothing ends up in landfills or is burned, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Experts say cheap, low quality fashion only exacerbates the problem.
Shein says its business model enables it to reduce waste and overproduction by producing small batches. It says it only commissions bigger batches from factories in its supply chain if demand is demonstrated. The company has a set goal of reducing emissions by 25% by 2030, based on 2021 figures.
Shein’s campaign flop demonstrates an important insight into Gen Z’s buying practices. On the one hand, the up-and-coming generation doesn’t just care about cheap prices: Gen Z seems genuinely concerned about the impacts brands have on the environment and on their workers. On the other hand, Gen Z often succumbs to the mob mentality of social media, singularly picking out certain brands — such as Shein — while ignoring others, such as Topshop, H&M, and Forever 21.
Despite Gen Z’s social-media-inspired mob mentality, its criticism of big transnational brands and corporations could lead to a greater emphasis on shopping locally and buying from small businesses. This concept is conservative not only in practice but also in principle.
Elizabeth Crawford is a rising senior at Hillsdale College studying politics. A member of The American Spectator’s 2023 intern class, Elizabeth enjoys drinking good tea and plans to pursue a career in journalism.