Is Shein Legit? Uncovering the Truth Behind this Fashion Giant!

E-commerce retail has, over the years, grown into a trillion-dollar industry. This is not surprising considering that we are increasingly doing more on the internet. 

One of the breakaway stars of this revolution is Shein. 

But is Shein legit? Do they actually make good clothes?

What Is Shein?

Shein has quickly become famous for its wide range of very affordably-priced fashions. Shein has made a name for itself by proving fashions for the masses compared to other fashion retailers. In addition, fashionistas that do not have large budgets find the process less punishing than what they find from other vendors. 

Some History on Shein

Chris Xu founded this company in 2008 in Nanjing, China. It was initially called ZZKKO. Xu, the founder, is a Search Engine Optimization marketing specialist and entrepreneur. 

The company started by selling wedding dresses, later branching out to general womenswear. Further, the company did not engage in any clothing manufacturing or design, instead, getting products from clothing wholesalers in Guangzhou. The company, by and large, was more focused on drop shipping to international customers through third-party wholesalers.

Shein later acquired Romwe, a Chinese eCommerce retailer at the time. This move made Shein a fully integrated retailer. 

Currently, the company’s products are available in over 200 countries.

Shein is big on making fashion accessible to everyone, hence its low prices on virtually all items it carries on its site. There is a catch; the quality is nowhere near what you would get at higher price points from other stores. 

What you get from this retailer are fast, trendy low, quality items. This is not always necessarily a bad thing. Shein takes the trending, fashionable items of the moment and makes lower-quality versions that cost significantly less than the originals. 

This can be advantageous. Think about expensive clothing items you have bought in the past only to wear for one season. Those dint make much economic sense, did they? 

Keep in mind that Shein dresses are not designed to be show horses. However, they will allow you to keep up with the fashion trends of the moment cheaply. So if you are looking for a few trendy summer or winter pieces, Shein is perfectly okay. However, if you are looking for workwear to take you through the next couple of months, this is unlikely to be your best bet. 

How Does Shein Make Its Money?

You might be wondering how Shein makes its money with the low process it charges on purchases. 

Shein markets itself as an International B2C fast fashion eCommerce company that prides itself in offering ”…on-trend styles catering to young women and teens who won’t break the bank’’. 

With this and its business model, Shein has set itself apart from other retailers. 

Fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M take weeks to track trends. On average, the companies take about three weeks to come up with new designs. Shein uses real-time data to go through the entire process in under a week. This is mainly done by taking researched designs from other brands and moving to productions to create lower-quality versions. 

This allows the company faster production timelines. They can also continually produce trendy items while removing slow-moving stock from their inventory. 

With this model, Shein is able to enjoy profits in billions. The company made close to 10 billion USD in 2020

Some of the factors Shein attributes to its impressive profitability are:

  • They offer direct delivery, negating the need to hire, run and maintain warehouses
  • They rely heavily on the internet to help identify fashion trends
  • Automated platforms to analyze purchases and movements within the Shein App
  • Going big on influencers as part of its marketing initiatives
  • A dense network of small suppliers, mainly in Guangzhou

Is Shein Legit?

Yes it is. People order from the site and receive their purchases. The site also has a safe online payment system that keeps shoppers’ information private.

‘’Shein Hauls” is one proof of this. Here, primarily women and teenagers, customers film themselves receiving their packages, opening them up, and trying their stuff on.  

These videos are then uploaded on TikTok and YouTube. These provide some social proof that the company indeed delivers, if nothing else. Customers wondering if Shein is reliable find these videos affirming. 

With that said, numerous concerns have been raised regarding the company and how it operates. These have tainted Shein’s image and are likely to be the company’s legitimacy problems genesis. 

Let’s discuss what some of these are.

Intellectual Property Theft

Shein takes the trends of the day and makes cheaper versions of them for sale. As such, the company has been accused of intellectual property theft severally. The more recent incidences are a 2018 Levi Strauss & Co. lawsuit that was settled out of court. 

In 2021, AirWair International limited accused Shein and Romwe of selling copies of its Dr. Marten’s boots. Shein has dubbed its version ”Martins” and sold them for a lower price while using original Dr. Martens photos to advertise their version of the boots. The same year, Ralph Laurens sued the company for unfair competition and trademark infringement. 

Other businesses that have lodged similar complaints include Lise Valfre of the Valfre brand in Los Angeles, Quinn Jones, founder of Kayak, Elexiay, Reclamare PH, Sincerely RIA, and so on. 

The hashtag ‘’boycottshein’’ was even formed in 2020 against these actions, and it became popular on TikTok and Twitter. 

Environmental Unsustainability

Clothes produced by Shein are of very low quality a not designed to last. This is because the entire business model focuses on keeping up with trends quickly. Therefore, consumers of these clothes are not looking for longevity past an item’s fashionable lifespan. 

Quality matters aside, affordability also means using synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. These come cheap but pose a more significant problem; they do not decay. The result is trendy clothes that will outlive their usefulness very quickly but then do not decay. 

This means that each item from Shein will spend far much longer in landfills than they ever will in your closet. 

The company has alluded to dropping 700-1,000 new styles every day to compound the problem. This influx of designs coupled with very low prices entices customers into purchasing more clothes at a higher frequency.

This contributed significantly to the global rise in textile waste. 

Low quality and wrong sizing also mean that some items will get to customers and be discarded without ever being worn.

Lack Of Transparency

We are living in a time and age where customers want more than just good products that offer value for money. Customers today are increasingly interested in finding companies whose values and beliefs align with theirs. However, transparency is key in this. 

One frustration activists have had with Shein is a sheer lack of transparency. One instance of this is the lack of transparency in its supply chain. While the company claims to use environmentally friendly production processes and even recycling, none of these claims can be confirmed. 

The company is also not very forthcoming with its production line, making it difficult to determine its interaction with textile dyeing. Textile dyeing happens to be the second-largest source of river pollution. 

Is Shein Ethical? Questionable Labor Practices

The stolen designs can explain Shein’s low prices (no investment in tracking and creating designs from scratch)/ they can also be explained by the low quality and short production processes enjoyed, thanks to intellectual property theft. 

However, there have been claims of something much more sinister: questionable labor practices and human rights violations.

A report in November 2021 shed some light on the shocking work culture at Shein. According to Chinese labor law, a working week should have a minimum of 40 working hours. There is also a provision for 36 hours of overtime monthly. However, a researcher was able to find employees that work 75-hour weeks, some taking one day off every month. 

Another issue is that most factories producing for Shein did not offer their workers contracts, again, in contravention of the law. 

In August 2021, the company stated on its website that its factories were certified by SA8000 and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). However, this was disputed, and the UK found Shein in breach of its 2015 Modern Slavery Act. Australia followed suit after finding the company in violation of its anti-slavery laws as well. 

Health and Safety Concerns

A Canadian professor cited the company for selling toddlers; jackets with 20 times the allowable amounts of lead as stipulated in Health Canada’s safety regulation. The company also sold purses with five times the allowable amounts of lead. 

In its response, Shien notified Marketplace that it would stop production of the flagged items until the matter was resolved. 

Offensive Representations and Cultural Insensitivity

The site has posted a necklace with a Swastika on it and a phone case with the image of a handcuffed black man. Shein apologized for the latter and for using the image without the owner’s permission. 

The company has also tried selling Muslim prayer mats as ‘’frilled Greek carpets’’. 

Top Tips For Shopping At Shein

If you are looking for fashionable low-cost items and are willing to overlook the negative reviews listed above, Shein might be worth a shot. 

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Shein shopping experience.  

1. Focus On Sizing and Know Your Measurements

The sizes on the site vary a whole lot!!! Depending on the item you are wearing, you might find yourself anywhere from a small to an extra-large. This sounds unbelievable, but most Shein reviews speak of this discrepancy. 

As such, you need to know your body measurements before shopping on Shein. Unfortunately, knowing your size alone simply won’t cut it. Now, we have become quite accustomed to shopping by size, so measurements create a whole new problem. This article should help you know how to get your body measurements

With these figures at hand, you will need to compare them to Shein’s item’s body measurements. On Shein’s site, you want to look beyond the default measurements. Click ”body measurements” on the items to get the actual measurements and compare them to yours. This should offer a better fit. 

For whatever reason, the items on Shein run about small. So whenever you are in doubt, always go a size up. 

2. Be Cautious About Products Without Customer Photos

Photos and Shein reviews posted by other customers on the Shein website are instrumental in helping you determine what an item will look like on your body. 

Shein products will often look like the photos posted on the site, although there are some exceptions. Seeing a buyer in something offers a more accurate insight. 

Reviews are equally important as they will talk about the finer details of an item. These, coupled with descriptions, will tell you more about the clothes on sale. Similarly, pay attention to the fabrics used. 

Certain fabrics look more luxe than others. So if you are shopping for affordable items that look expensive, go for heavier fabrics like wools and tweeds. Not only do these last longer, but the items made from these fabrics on Shein also tend to be of better quality than sheers and other lightweight clothes. 

3. Be On The Lookout For Promos

We all love a good discount, and Shein is never short on these. The site is constantly running sales or promo codes on the site. Always check their homepage for the latest offers before checking out. 

Another way to save some cash is using Rakuten on all orders you make on Shein. 

There are also points and rewards that can save you cash. Shein makes it super easy for you to earn points and rewards. This all begins when you create an account and verify your email address. 

This easy task gets you 100 points. From then on, you;

  • Will earn a point each time you receive an order and confirm delivery on the app or Shein website
  • When you receive an item and leave a review on it on the site
  • When you upload a photo to a review, you have done on a purchase
  • Download the Shein app to get access to more points. These include checking the app daily to earn points after checking the app for seven consecutive days

4. Order Early

Shein shipping in most locations will take about two weeks. 

If you are shopping for items to wear for a specific event, you need to make your order as early as possible. At the very least, order three weeks in advance.

Shein shipping costs are pretty affordable. US orders above $9.90 are free. For orders less than $9.90, shipping will be $3.99. 

5. Price Goes Hand In Hand With Quality

While there are exceptions to this rule, typically, the higher the price of Shein clothes, the better their quality is likely to be. 

Try shopping on Shein’s recently launched MOTF Premium if you want items that will last. This is a collection of elevated items made from higher quality fabric and better workmanship than the standard Shein product. 

There is also Shein X, which carries designer items of excellent quality. While still being sold at reasonable prices. 

The products from Shein X and MOTF premiums often attract great Shein reviews, which is a good sign. 

Opt for the pricier items if you are happy to pay slightly more for clothes that remain in good shape for longer. 

6. Sold Out Items

Some items on Shein tend to sell out really quickly. Fortunately, the site tends to restock some sold-out items. 

If you find something you love, but it’s been sold out, save the item to your ”my wish list’’. Once you do this, check back on the website often to see if it has been restocked. 

You also have more options. For example, if the items you place on your ‘’my wish list” have been sold out, the site will give you a ”shop similar items” option. What you find here will closely resemble the items you missed out on. 

7. Payment Methods

Payment methods are a fundamental part of online business, and online retailers try to ensure they have multiple convenient options for customers. Shein is no exception. 

You can pay for purchases using a credit/debit card, Afterpay, Klarna, or PayPal. You get different payment methods in different countries, and it’s important to confirm what these are when you travel abroad. 

One of the preferred options in the US for online shoppers is PayPal, thanks to its security backing. 

8. Maintenance For Shein Dresses and Other Items

Many items you will get on Shein will be of the best quality. This means they will need some tender care if they are to last you a few wears. 

One of the suggestions from loyal Shein shoppers is to wash Shein dresses on a cold, gentle cycle. Also, avoid drying in the machine and instead hang them out to dry. 

The washing should be done using a mild detergent. 

Similarly, steam any clothes that wrinkle instead of ironing them. Some of the fabrics used in Shein clothing will melt when ironed. 

For exercise clothes, you can wash on a normal warm cycle so as to effectively wash off all the sweat. Again, opt to hang them out to dry instead of machine drying them. You will get significantly more wear this way. 

Final take

There are many ways to make money online, and selling on Shein is one of them. However, like in any other venture, conducting due diligence is key before investing.

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