As part of their seemingly unstoppable rise towards fast fashion domination, Shein recently launched their own reality TV contest. The show, which is now available to stream via Shein’s app, features 30 emerging designers competing to win a $100,000 prize and a capsule collection on the brand’s website. There is even a star-studded panel of judges, which includes Khloe Kardashian, designers Christian Siriano and Jenna Lyons, fashion editor Laurel Pantin, and stylist Law Roach.
Representatives from the brand stated that the show was created as part of “one of the many large philanthropic initiatives from the brand in 2021, and aims to bring people together in celebration of fashion”.
Frankly, this is an insult to those who do love fashion.
If you’re not aware of Shein, they are one of the largest fast-fashion retailers in the world, shipping to 220 countries and having an estimated value of $15 billion. The brand shot to success after growing in popularity for their shockingly low garment prices and for stocking a huge range of designs. It must be stated that their production model produces enormous amounts of damaging carbon emissions and textile waste. However, a particularly negative aspect of their operation is that often their designs are inspired by rip-offs of more expensive pieces from independent artists and designers.
Although Shein may appear to be another affordable brand allowing people to indulge in clothing pieces they otherwise are unable to purchase, it is safe to say that the company has been at the centre of a vast number of accusations of stealing designs. Much more than H&M, Primark, or Zara, for example. This is what truly makes this TV show a piece of hypocritical art.
The show actively supports independent artists and designers – the same people they have been stealing from for years without any significant repercussions. Only a few months ago the retailer stole a jumper pattern from the small brand Elexiay, which produces sustainable, handmade crochet clothing. Shein didn’t bother to change the design in the slightest. As you’d expect, Elexiay commented that they felt crushed by the situation.
This TV show is in no way a redemption for the fast-fashion giant. It is great that small designers are being showcased to a large audience. However, evidence shows that this project may be nothing but a PR stunt than an actual redemption for indie designers. As the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.