Aug 24

Fast Fashion 411: Summer 2023

by Florenne Earle Ledger

We can’t believe summer is almost over (that sentence feels like a scam). With the season drawing to a close, we’re reviewing what the last few months have been like in the world of fast fashion. There’s been more unpredictable and shocking developments, as always, fast fashion likes to keep us on our toes.

Let’s get into it.

The Rise of Temu

As if Shein wasn’t bad enough, Temu has become more widely known in the last few months. You can buy everything you can imagine for a stupidly cheap price on Temu, the discount store for everything.

On the face of it it sounds great- but we know by now that cheap prices mean someone is getting shelved along the way, and it’s never the CEOs.

Temu is proof the fast fashion industry continues to boom at an alarming rate, at the expense of garment and factory workers. As long as fast fashion giants like Temu and Shein continue to function, workplace rights and lives outside of work are virtually non-existent for garment workers.

Brett Staniland has some great videos on Instagram detailing why we should be aware of Temu and the threat it poses to our planet:

Naomi Campbell X PLT

The collab that *literally* no one expected. Pretty Little Thing partnered with iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell. Campbell has previously been praised for her charitable work so it was very strange to see that she’s working with Pretty Little Thing.

Everyone was just as shocked as we were. No one can believe she's choosing to partner with such an unethical brand after her track record. More details are soon to be revealed, and you can bet we’re keeping our eyes peeled.

It’s sad to see that another big name has been bought out by a fast fashion giant. We need more celebrities and people of influence to use their voice to stand against fast fashion and climate change. Take a leaf out of Billie Eillish’s book pls.

H&M - Pretty Little Liars

H&M have done a lot wrong this summer. One of the things they got called up on was not recycling their clothing donations.

They made a promise to ‘close the loop’ and recycle 95% of clothing donations put in recycling bins in their stores. However, this was an empty promise *pretends to be surprised*.

We’re not shocked that H&M aren’t behaving sustainably, but we’re disappointed at the lack of research behind their promises. Reports show when they tried to recycle clothing they realised it was too difficult to organise due to the volume of donations. Naturally, instead of anticipating that people would want to recycle clothing to be more sustainable and planning for a large amount of donations, they burned them or shipped them to the Global South, instead of finding local charities or alternative solutions to recycle the clothes. It’s almost like they didn’t want their own sustainable initiative to be successful as they clearly didn’t plan for it to be.

This kind of behaviour from fast fashion brands needs to stop. It shows that they view themselves as untouchable. The CEOs know that even when people find out about this, they will continue to buy from them. We need to demand more from brands as consumers.

H&M vs Shein

H&M sued Shein for ‘stealing’ their designs in July this year. It’s like watching a fight break out on the school playground, only between two of the largest and most unethical companies in the world.


Shein has been accused many times of stealing independent designers work, so I’m wondering if this was a strategic choice from H&M to try and appear like victims and liken themselves to independent designers to seem more sustainable. Attempt failed, sorry H&M.

Unsurprisingly, Shein and their “confusing corporate structure” allows the company to “avoid liability” the Independent tells us. The fashion industry needs transparency legislation put in place to prevent brands from evading responsibility, especially when our planet and people’s lives are at stake.

Shein was also accused of stealing independent designers' work again this summer. They were served a RICO charge (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) as they sold exact copies of “copyrightable graphic design".

It’s truly sad to see Shein raking in millions of dollars off the back of beautiful designs that they didn’t come up with, whilst independent designers struggle in the cost of living crisis. If you can, shop locally and support independent designers to ensure you keep the economy circular and fund businesses that have a positive impact on our earth.

We have power as a collective to support businesses that are not contributing to climate change. To learn more about your power as an individual in the climate crisis, we suggest reading ‘It’s Not That Radical’ by Mikaela Loach.

Boohoo are Bargain Hunters

We were literally shocked to see that BooHoo had the nerve to ask for a 10% discount from their suppliers in May this year.

As if they weren’t cutting enough corners, they wanted to reduce costs further to try and increase profit margins. We’d suggest adapting the business model to be more sustainable so that people feel comfortable buying from your brand and have faith the clothes will actually last so you can make more sales, but that’s just us.

What makes this worse is that the discount was said to be covering the cost of undelivered items and outstanding costs from BooHoo. It seems like they are ‘demanding’ their suppliers (who they pay extremely poorly anyway) to cover the cost of their mistakes. They went from extremely bad to literally awful.

Shein Influencer Campaign

Possibly one of the most talked about things in the history of fast fashion and the internet was Shein’s influencer campaign. It was so ridiculous we had to include it in this round up.

If you missed it, Shein invited a select few influencers to tour one of their garment factories. Clearly, this garment warehouse was a set up and chosen/built specifically for this campaign. It was not a true representation of Shein garment factories.

There were even signs with feminist slogans which couldn’t be more disrespectful considering the inhumane conditions they force thousands and thousands of vulnerable women to work in everyday. We highly suggest watching the Shein documentary on Channel 4 to find out more. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it has to be done.

It was truly awful to see influencers condoning Shein labour conditions based on this minute example, saying things like ‘I like to find out the truth for myself before making judgement’ leading their audience to believe that they may have made a mistake by viewing Shein as the exploitative powerhouse that it is.

Everyone involved in the trip received extreme backlash and some apologised, but we were truly gobsmacked to see the extent that Shein would go for good press, and how many people believed it.

Aja Barber spoke more about why it was even more problematic that they chose mainly influencers from marginalised groups:

‘These companies also realise marginalised communities’ desperation to be included and that telling minority creators they have a seat at the table is pretty powerful. And so while the people that made the five and six figures deals years ago are happily skipping into the sunset because now they care about sustainability.’

‘Now, after they made the most amount of money in the conversation, you’re going to be left there holding the bag. And these fast fashion companies are even getting you at a discount because they’re not paying you as much as that person got paid. I really want marginalised people to understand a brand that exploits marginalised people is exploiting you as well. You just don’t realise.’

That’s the 411 on fast fashion news from summer 2023. We would love to know if we missed anything, please get in touch with us on our < a href="">socials to let us know. Share this article with a friend who might be interested and doesn’t know about the events discussed <3

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