By Meriem Cherif
Popular for kickstarting trends, Tik Tok has inspired a new social media craze: Shein haul accounts. Known for its suspiciously low prices, Shein is an online retailer that has blown up the past few years, raking in over two-billion dollars in 2019. Shein is especially popular among teenagers, who start accounts on Tik Tok to share their purchases. As these videos garner millions of views on Tik Tok’s For You page, the ever-present concern about sustainability prevails. However, the fast fashion discussion is nothing new—now, many are turning their attention to a different villain: overconsumption.
The link between social media and spending decisions is undeniable; one Hubspot report finds that 71% of consumers are influenced by social media referrals to make their purchases. With Shein’s rise on Tik Tok, overconsumption has become the norm. Fifteen second videos capture numerous pieces of clothing, and comment boxes fill with users expressing their amazement at the low cost. The free PR for Shein leads many to flock to the website and purchase excessive amounts of clothing due to the lure of cheap prices—despite poor quality production that lends Shein it’s 2.95 star average rating. Ensuingly, a new step-by-step process commences: consumers end up compensating for a lack of quality by purchasing more clothing in an attempt to replace the pieces in their closet that have already fallen apart. In addition, being fed Tik Tok haul videos constantly, viewers unknowingly acclimate to an environment where the hottest trend changes day by day. Finally, compounded by the alluring promises that Shein releases 500 new products each day, consumers are lassoed into a vicious cycle of hyperconsumerism that seems impossible to escape. With this process under way, landfills with unwanted clothing, and individual carbon footprints soar.
Although it may not seem obvious, the relentless exposure of overconsumption—especially to a younger and more impressionable audience—lends it way to a generation of individuals who distort the essence of fashion, who find value in the amount of clothing they have rather than the pieces themselves. As we strive towards a culture where materialism is not synonymous to fulfilment, we must remember: it only takes one Tik Tok haul for someone to fall down the rabbit hole.