Is Shein safe?

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Shein has quickly risen to become a giant in the fast fashion sphere, but many still wonder whether the site is legit. Low prices are a staple of the platform, but so is low quality if purchasers are unlucky with their haul, and this has led to an increased sense of distrust surrounding Shein.

Today we'll be exploring the legitimacy of the platform and sharing some buying tips for those who chose to make a purchase.

What is Shein?

Shein is an online store that promotes bargain basement pricing. Its main focus is clothing, however, it also offers beauty products, homewares and more. The online retailer is relatively new within the Australian market, but has developed a cult following among supporters.

Is Shein legit?

Shein is a legitimate website and application. If you know how to shop on the platform properly you can score a great deal. Fashionable items for both yourself and your home are available, and the payment and shipping systems pass the vibe check.

If you're looking to get a peek at what kind of quality is on offer before committing to a purchase, there are plenty of videos online with people showcasing their hauls. This is, however, due to the aforementioned cult following, so be aware that the people making these videos usually like the platform (or even have an affiliate partnership with Shein) so their opinions may be biased. Having said that, there are also plenty of videos from individuals who aren't happy with their purchases, so if you're willing to go digging, you can get a well rounded overview of what to expect from the platform.

Is Shein trustworthy?

Although we've established that it's safe to shop with Shein, that doesn't necessarily mean that it always operates in a trustworthy manner.

There is a lot of controversy around many of the platform's designs with small designers and labels claiming that Shein has stolen parts of their design. In some cases, these claims extend to stating that Shein has completely copied their work. We're not legal experts dealing with these specific cases, so we'll refrain from commenting on the validity of these statements. We will acknowledge, however, that this seems to be an issue throughout the entirety of the fast fashion industry.

If you'd like to be sure that the designer of your clothing is getting proper recognition and compensation for their work, we suggest shopping from Shein's collaboration ranges as these highlight the original artist. You'll be able to find these ranges fairly easily on the platform, as they're usually labelled "Shein X [collaborating designer]". We’ve also noticed that collaboration ranges tend to be better quality than most Shein products, so you tend to get better bang for your buck, plus the satisfaction of knowing the original artist is getting compensation.

It’s also important to note that the cheap prices Shein offers come at an ethical cost. There are multiple reports (denied by Shein) of poor working conditions in their facilities, including excessive working hours and below-standard pay. Environmentally speaking, the brand falls significantly short of any sustainability efforts, emitting an estimated 6.3 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Plus, the sheer amount of items produced by Shein each year drives overconsumption and inevitably results in more clothing going to landfill.

Top five tips for shopping safely on Shein

If you've decided to go ahead with making a purchase from Shein, there are a few ways to increase your chances of ending up with a delivery that brings a smile to your face.

Always check the reviews

Reviews are worth their weight in gold on Shein. Some items are top quality and arrive exactly how they looked in the picture, but others can show up as a complete mess.

In order to avoid the latter, check what other customers are saying about a product before you buy it.

It is important to note that some people will leave reviews purely to get "Shein points" so not all reviews can be trusted. Check for wording that looks generic and skip past these in favour of reviews that have a proper opinion.

Make sure there are photo reviews

Another way to ensure you're getting a quality item that matches the description is to ensure you're buying products that have photos attached to their reviews.

This does three things:

  • Allows you to see what the product actually looks like in real life, therefore confirming whether it does, or doesn't match the description and product imagery 
  • Shows the product on multiple body types so you're more likely to be able to see it on a shape that is similar to yours
  • Increases the chances of a review being a genuine one, rather than one that was simply provided in order to get points 

Note: Shein asks people to rate their items on different factors such as sizing and smell in addition to giving an overall rating, so looking at these factors can also be helpful.

Go by measurement, not size

Shein sizing is hardly ever correctly aligned with Australian sizing and your appropriate size can vary significantly from product to product. This is due, in many cases, to the fact that the sizing provided tends to align more with sizing presented in the product's country of origin and anyone who's ever shopped online knows it's essentially a guessing game to find the right size.  For this reason it's vital that you go by measurement rather than the presented sizing.

Size up

While going by measurements will get you a much better fit than selecting your products by size, there won't always be an option that exactly fits what you need. When this happens, sizing up is your best option in order to ensure that the garment will fit. Measurements tend to be mostly correct on Shein, but some items have next to no give in them so it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since the difference tends to be minor.

Always patch test

Finally, in terms of cosmetics, Shein tends to provide quality similar to those of chemist brands or other cheap equivalents. If you're looking for top quality, you're still going to need to head to your preferred specialty retailer, but the platform does have some decent dupes.

Having said that, it is vital that you always do a patch test with any cosmetics or skin care that you purchase from the platform.

Final word

If you've skipped to here for the TL;DR version of this piece, the short answer to the question of, "is Shein a scam?" is no.

The platform offers a decent selection of okay-quality goods for pretty good prices, however, the company’s ethical practices are something that every shopper should consider.

If you do choose to shop on Shein, be careful when browsing, and consider placing a small order first to ensure you're happy with the type of product it delivers before you go restocking your entire wardrobe.

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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