Browse all

Shein is trying to redeem herself with a university course in America

But even this partnership with FIDM could turn out to be a washout

Shein is trying to redeem herself with a university course in America But even this partnership with FIDM could turn out to be a washout

The fast fashion giant Shein has recently announced a partnership with the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), a project that will see one of the world's most environmentally and morally dubious companies launch a design course and scholarship. The news has come as a surprise to many, especially considering that Shein has been guilty of numerous cases of plagiarism, including against emerging designers, for several years. The partnership will see twelve FIDM students receive a $40,000 scholarship and participate in a program to create a collection of ten pieces to be sold on the Shein website. The company's American president, George Chiao, has stated that this partnership will provide a useful opportunity for students to launch their careers in fashion and gain access to Shein's network of customers.

Despite the charitable intent expressed in Chiao's statements, many of the controversies surrounding the fast fashion manufacturer make this program unconvincing to many. In addition to cases where Shein has been accused of copying the designs and products of independent artists and designers, the Chinese company is infamous for being unsustainable from both an environmental and ethical standpoint. According to a Rest of World study, the site sells between 1,000 and 20,000 items per day, many of which are made from synthetic and low-quality materials. Moreover, employees in its manufacturing factories are often forced to work in inhumane conditions. As documented by a Public Eye report, many of Shein's practices violate Chinese labor laws, and many workers are forced to work underpaid shifts of 75 hours per week. It is, therefore, difficult to understand how a fashion design institute, which should reward artistic innovation in favor of sustainability and progress in the fashion world, would consider it a good idea to collaborate with a company like Shein. Unfortunately, this project and others like it are a sad testament to how underfunded international schools are forced to compromise with big companies in the fast fashion industry, despite the questionable practices that they continue to carry out, which the whole world is aware of.

Is this initiative yet another attempt by Shein to rewrite its own story? In recent months, the Chinese fast fashion giant has seen a loss in market value following the arrival of rival Temu. Prior to this partnership with FIDM, Shein had already taken steps to improve its reputation, such as promoting circular fashion and adding a "quiet luxury" section to its website. However, it still needs to demonstrate greater consistency if it wants to gain credibility as a reliable retailer.