Yesterday, news broke that hyper fast fashion retailer SHEIN raised $1 billion in a round of funding. This values the company at an estimated $100 billion. That’s a big red flag for our quickly warming planet.
Fast fashion is extensive in its ethics and sustainability shortcomings. Questionable labor practices, dyes that run off into rivers, and extensive use of water are a few of the concerns. Synthetics that seep into the food supply and an unbelievable amount of carbon emissions are a few more. SHEIN is perhaps one of the worst players out there. Frequently, consumers wonder how SHEIN products can be purchased so cheaply? Well, it’s because they take a lot of shortcuts.
What this financing round says is that there is no stopping SHEIN and financial backers don’t seem to care. Fashion is one of the largest contributors to global warming, producing roughly 10% of carbon emissions. Therefore, the fashion industry is responsible for annual carbon emissions equal to all international flights and maritime shipping combined. The largest fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren and Kering can afford to invest in sustainability practices. However, it is the fast fashion business model that thrives on curbing those efforts.
Policymakers and consumers should take note if they wish to reach their climate goals. Finally, requiring a labeling system on products similar to a surgeon general’s warning may help consumers understand the impact.
Read more about the impact of fast fashion on earth.org and on Business of Fashion.