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Fashion &


Spring 2023

The Pull of Fashion in a Fast World

Angelica Niedermeyer

            I sing along to Mac Miller’s “The Spins” as it blasts on the bright pink JBL speaker between my roommates’ and I’s rooms. My makeup is half done and my hair is cold and wet from a rushed shower. It’s almost 10:00 p.m. 

            My heart is racing. My arm follows my fingertips reaching deeper, rummaging through The Bin. Curiously, I think I grab something unfamiliar. Could it be? But, it’s just an XS cropped, tight neon top like the rest of them from freshman year. I fall back on my closet cushion with a sigh. Last year’s trendiest tops pile around me as if to comfort me like unwanted toys. I just can’t seem to find anything to wear. 

            It’s Friday night and the place we end up after the pregame doesn’t matter. As long as I take the perfect Instagram picture in a hot top that hides the fact that I’ve worn jeans and my Nike Air Force's in my last five posts. 

            We are in an epidemic: in collegiate America, tiny tops are taking over. Tops from Shein, H&M, Fashion Nova, Prettylittlething and             Forever 21 are the staple from Thursday to Saturday, and they are way too easy to order.

             We all have The Bin— the drawer or box full of already worn going-out tops. The Bin, which grew so fast that we lost track of how many tops we have. The Bin that we so graciously offer to our friends to look through to borrow just one of our tops so they can get a second life for one night. 

            The only solution seems to be to keep buying them. The rush of the order and the quick waiting time. Generation Z is addicted to online shopping behind our computer screens in class, finding cheap websites or sales that get the trends for less. We barely drop more than ten dollars an item. Even though the cost is not high for us, the cost for others is non comparable. 

            72% of college students shopped fast fashion in 2022, says Forbes. Everybody knows fast fashion is helping us kill the planet with factories' constant carbon emissions, but is knowing changing people’s habits? 

            Linda Guarino, a freshman finance major, shares her perspective on Shein.

            “I actually bought [from Shein] this month,” Guarino said. “But, I haven’t in a really long time. I try not to do super huge orders because I heard that’s worse than doing a couple things. I mean I feel like every brand kind of does it. I saw a video of Nike doing the same thing.” 

            According to The Cut, after an investigation was done on Shein by the U.K. 's Channel 4, it was discovered that, “workers in factories were working up to 18-hour days and were given only one day off a month. The outlet found women washing their hair during lunch breaks, and workers were penalized two-thirds of their daily wage if they made a mistake on a clothing item.”

Guarino has heard similar concerns. 

            “On TikTok, I don’t know if this is real, but I saw them [Shein workers] writing ‘help me’ in their clothes. I’ve never gotten that, but I think if I did I would stop buying from there,” Guarino shares. “Especially with how many people buy the big orders, I think that Shein can afford to pay people more.” 

            How can we proceed with placing orders knowing people are suffering? On top of that, Shein’s biggest selling point is its low prices of clothes and its quick on-trend styles. The company added between 2,000 to 10,000 new styles a day between July and December 2021, according to Rest of World. Time magazine attributes Shein to being the world’s most popular fashion brand, but not all their styles are their own. 

            Fast fashion is easy for college students, teens and young adults. It provides instant gratification when you see your order placed and when social classes separate accessible fashion, a cheaper site may sell what looks like the same top. However, not everything on the site can be trusted. 

            “You definitely have to look at the reviews on Shein because you really don’t know,” Guarino said. “I always have to make sure I look at pictures to see if it’s actually fitted correctly. I have bought so many bathing suits from there and they just don’t fit or even how they look. There are certain things I just can’t buy from Shein.” 

            But as a freshman, Shein was really reliable in creating a college wardrobe — things that I never wore at my all-girl high school. From push-up corset tops to slinky bodysuits and tie-back, wrap-around neon shirts, Shein had it all, especially for a group of girls in a dorm dreaming of going out in 2020. 

            “Coming to college, there was this pressure to not wear the same tops,” shares Jamie Robbins, a junior double environmental studies and urban studies major. “During freshman year, it was bad. I was buying from Shein once a month. But, going into sophomore year, that is when I had my major change to environmental science. I feel like I became a lot more conscious of what I was doing and what I was purchasing. I feel like now, wearing the same tops, doesn’t really bother me as much. I definitely try not to wear the same top two weekends in a row. But, I have enough tops I can cycle through.” 

            Robbins is just like most of us who feel the stress of wearing a new top every weekend so as not to be lame or unoriginal. It can be hard to keep up especially with added pressures to post a Snapchat or Instagram story. 

“I already bought them. I can’t take back buying them. I might as well wear them until I don’t like it. Then, I’ll try to give it to my friends,” Robbins said.

            She shared that if she is feeling unsure about what to wear or overwhelmed with her amount of already worn out tops, sharing them with friends is the best way to fix the problem.

Robbins’ go-to going out outfit is, “black ripped jeans and you know, the colorful tiny tops, and heels because I’m a short girl. Love the heels.” 

            Angela Gallegos, a senior communication major, explains that she doesn’t care about repeating tops as long as she spreads them out. 

            “I’m a big fan of the tiny top, big pants trend, and maybe a lil mini skirt sometimes,” Gallegos said. “My favorite tops are definitely repeated, but I try to spread out the tops I wear so it’s not too consecutive every weekend.” 

            Guarino shares that depending on the places college girls go, their outfits differ slightly. 

            “Everyone usually wears the Nike air forces or converse platforms, and they're usually wearing jeans,” she said. “They are almost always ripped at one spot. Everyone usually wears form-fitting tops: either tube tops or cropped tops. No one goes too fancy. No one really wears dresses, unless it’s like their birthday. Everyone kind of keeps with the leather pants, or ripped jeans and tiny tops. I’m on the mom jeans wave right now.” 

            At the local college bar or nearby restaurant you will see girls wearing a more casual fit with “beat up white shoes,” while when the girl group heads on the 1 train to clubs in Midtown or The Village, they usually dress the part. But even if it looks couture, don’t trust your eyes because it might just have been 15 dollars on Shein.

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