Shein is a flashy, colorful site with lots of tempting ‘buy’ signals.
The clothes look cool, trendy, modern.
There’s 10% off offers, 20% off offers, flash sales, BOGO sales!
And not only do the models look great in the clothes they are selling – there’s lots of reviews with Shein customers modeling the clothes they bought, sometimes even in glamour shots at cool locations.
There’s a lot of “wow” to their site and sales presentation. But let’s take a peek behind the curtain…
Is Shein Legit?
Shein is a Chinese based company that was founded in 2008.
The company was originally named ZZKKO, then was renamed to SheInside, and later on became Shein (pronounced She-In).
Shein originally sold to customers in Spain, France, Russia, Italy, and Germany, but has since expanded to 195 countries throughout the world.
The company primarily sells women’s clothing, but they also offer men’s and children’s items, despite the Shein name.
Intellectual Property Theft
Shein has been accused of stealing designs from other companies:
- Ralph lauren has filed a trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against Shein.
- Levi Strauss & Co has sued Shein, accusing them of copying a trademarked jean stitching.
- Valfré notified their customers that Shein was selling copies of their products.
- Kikay said their earring designs were copied by Shein.
- Elexiay says that Shein stole their design of a pink and green hand-crocheted sweater.
- Reclamare PH has claimed that Shein marketed knockoffs of their designs.
- The founder and designer for Sincerely Ria, has accused Shein of stealing her designs.
- AirWair International Limited, the company that makes Dr. Marten boots, accused Shein of making shoes that look similar and using photos of authentic Dr. Marten shoes to market them.
The hashtag “boycottShein” became popular on TikTok and Twitter in 2020, with users attempting to bring attention to these issues.
MarketPlace, a Canadian consumer watchdog show, tested toddlers’ jackets from Shein and found that they contained almost 20 times the amount of lead permitted under Health Canada’s safety regulations.
The investigator went as far as to say she considered the item they tested “toxic waste.”
In 2021, Reuters reported that Shein falsely stated on their site that conditions in the factories it uses were certified by international labor standards bodies and did not make disclosures, as required by UK law, about working conditions along its supply chain.
Reuters also reported in that same article that Shein was in violation of Australian anti-slavery laws.
Swiss advocacy group PublicEye investigated the working conditions at Shein’s suppliers and found that employees were working 75-hour weeks, in breach of Chinese labor laws.
Is Shein Safe To Buy From?
If you gloss over the concerns about the theft of designs, health and safety, and slavery, and just want to know if you will get a product if you buy it, the answer is that you probably will.
Based on my research, it appears that Shein customers usually receive the products that they order.
However, the thing to understand about buying on Shein is that you get what you pay for.
Even positive reviews of Shein (and we’ll get to why there are so many positive reviews in just a moment), admit that the clothing and products are poorly made. They say not to expect them to last through several wears and washings.
Basically, the prices are cheap because the clothing is cheaply made.
Customer service is also an issue.
There are many reports on the BBB and PissedConsumer saying that the customer service is very poor. Language is often a barrier. Complaints on those two sites often focus on not being able to get a refund if something goes wrong.
Why Shein Reviews Are Suspect
Shein has a complex ‘rewards’ program.
Not only do Shein users earn points from visits to the site, with bonuses doled out for daily visits, but Shein offers points for posting reviews, for posting pictures, for getting likes on their reviews, etc.
Points give users discounts on purchases. The more points, the more discounts a user receives.
Basically, they have made their rewards system into an admittedly fun game.
Users (gamers) go all in, posting mostly flattering pictures of themselves wearing their Shein purchases and providing positive reviews. Some even beg for ‘likes’ (actually, it’s a ‘helpful’ button, but many users call it ‘likes’).
The gamification of the reviews and rewards program, while fun for customers competing for points, make the reviews unreliable.
It’s great for Shein, as their products get lots of cheerful reviews. It’s not so good for consumers trying to discern the actual quality of what they are considering purchasing.
Along with the rewards program, Shein also offers an affiliate program that pays a commission to users that send them more users.
Because of this, you will see many positive reviews, articles, and social media posts about Shein online.
The positive review will generally contain a link to Shein that includes the reviewer’s affiliate ID.
If someone clicks on the link and signs up with Shein, the reviewer earns a commision when that user buys from Shein.
The reviewer is incentivized to give Shein a positive review. The more users they can get to sign up, the more money the reviewer makes.
Shein profits with lots of positive reviews, and the reviewers win by making money while not covering many of the facts we point out here.
Just so you know, Consumer Press is NOT a Shein affiliate. By policy, we do not include monetized links in our news stories and investigations.
Have you used Shein?
What do you think of them and their products?
Leave your thoughts in our comments section!