You Get What You Pay for: What to Know About Shein's Quality

"Cost" can mean a lot of things, especially when you consider the environmental and ethical cost of production.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

May 10 2024, Published 4:13 p.m. ET

Shein App
Source: Getty Images

Shein has become synonymous with fast fashion, since the brand is known for being able to mass produce clothing products and accessories quickly and at incredibly low prices. The company owes much of that affordability and efficiency to the fact that it doesn't rely on any third-party companies. Instead, they connect manufacturers directly with customers, eliminating costly middlemen like warehouses, distributors, and retailers.

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While that isn't the only way they keep costs low — Shein has faced backlash over claims of human rights violations that include relying on exploitative labor tactics that may involve using enslaved people as part of their workforce — many people wonder if the old adage is true when it comes to Shein products: You get what you pay for. Don't click "add to cart" before reading more about the fashion retailer, including whether folks think Shein merch qualifies as good quality products.

Shein clothes on hangers
Source: Getty Images
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Do Shein clothes hold up over time?

To find out whether or not Shein sells quality clothes, all you need to do is head over to Reddit to see what shoppers have to say about the product. In a post asking about whether or not Shein clothes were worth the hype, user @zztop610 was flooded with horror stories from former buyers. "I bought off there once," @mtempissmith wrote in part. "Nothing looked like the pics, much cheaper fabrics were used, and it was all three sizes smaller than it should have been."

Another person added that while they had received clothes that fit, their Shein merch generally doesn't last more than a single season, so shoppers should be aware that they'll only get a few wears out of each item. "Not exaggerating in the least when I say I almost never had a piece last even a whole season with fast fashion," @OrganicAnt2923 wrote.

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And while many people were cautioning the OP against buying the products because of how well they'll hold up, there were others who told them that the human cost was simply too high to pay. They cited some of the other allegations levied against the company, which include the environmental impacts of fast fashion, claims that the brand steals from other designers, and the disparity between how much the company's executives make compared to laborers who may be working against their will.

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Real customer reviews of Shein clothes show that the fast fashion brand's products are inconsistent in quality.

While it may be hard to take the word of faceless Redditors, there are countless first-person reviews available on TikTok, Instagram, and other places that can give you more insight into what you can expect from the controversial company. That includes this woman's review for USA Today, where she tried a selection of clothing from the retailer with varying results.

While she said that some of the clothes in her haul were hit-or-miss, there wasn't anything that she would actually add into her regular rotation, simply because even the Shein pieces she liked weren't high quality enough to make the cut — ouch! It sounds like the consensus is that when it comes to shopping Shein products, not even the low cost can make these frocks worth the price... and that goes for both the financial costs and the ethical ones as well. If you're a fan of low-priced duds, we recommend the world of thrift shopping.

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