Is cider more ethical than shein

Is Cider More Ethical Than Shein?

In today’s globalized world, the fashion industry has a profound impact on our environment, labor conditions, and consumer habits. With the rise of fast fashion brands like Cider and Shein, there is an increasing awareness of the need for more sustainable and ethical alternatives. The fast fashion model, characterized by rapid production, low prices, and frequent style turnover, has raised concerns about its contribution to carbon emissions, waste generation, and exploitative labor practices. As consumers become more conscious of the consequences of their choices, the demand for sustainable fashion options has grown. So, is Cider more ethical to buy over Shein?

Brands that prioritize ethical sourcing, promote fair labor conditions, use eco-friendly materials, and embrace transparency are gaining prominence. This shift towards sustainability represents a crucial step in mitigating the environmental impact of the fashion industry and fostering a more ethical approach to fashion consumption. Let’s see what makes Cider and Shein more popular and differs from each other.

Key Takeaways

  • Fast fashion brands like Cider and Shein operate within an industry known for its sustainable and ethical challenges.
  • Sustainable alternatives prioritize ethical practices, transparency, and sustainable sourcing of materials.
  • Consumers can support sustainable fashion by choosing brands that promote fair labor conditions, use eco-friendly materials, and prioritize transparency.
  • Mindful consumption habits, such as buying higher-quality items and embracing second-hand options, can reduce environmental impact.
  • Sustainable fashion aims to minimize carbon emissions, promote animal welfare, and prioritize worker well-being.

Cider & Shein: History and Definition

Before diving straight into which one is more ethical, it is first important to know about the history and the brands themselves.


Cider, a digitally-native D2C (direct-to-consumer) fashion brand, was established to cater to Gen Z with its trendy and affordable women’s wear. Their collection encompasses a wide range of Y2K aesthetic garments, including dresses, tops, bottoms, swimwear, accessories, and knitwear, all designed to appeal to the Instagram generation.

Making itself as a globally-minded and social-first brand, Cider takes pride in creating statement apparel for individuals worldwide. Their product catalog draws inspiration from diverse street styles found in fashion hubs like Paris, Shanghai, Seoul, New York, and Los Angeles. Additionally, Cider emphasizes size inclusivity by offering clothing options up to 4XL.With a smart fashion approach, Cider utilizes data to produce garments that are predicted to sell well, aiming to minimize waste and promote sustainability. Though, be cautious of potential greenwashing practices associated with the fast fashion industry.Cider constantly introduces hundreds of new styles each week, allowing customers to shop according to their mood, with filters such as “dreamy,” “hot,” or “cute” to browse through their collections. Remarkably, the majority of their products are priced below $20, offering affordable runway-inspired styles.


History of Cider

Cider was founded in 2020 by four friends, namely Michael Chen Wang, Fenco Lin, and Yu Oppel. The company’s vision was to merge the internet with fashion, offering affordable and trendy clothing for young people. With a total of eight investors, including Andreesen Horowitz and Greenoak, Cider quickly gained recognition in the industry.

Currently, it holds the impressive 3rd position among 4,606 competitors. The company has successfully secured a funding amount of $140 million and boasts a robust team of over 500 employees hailing from 14 different countries. Cider has become a well-known brand worldwide, celebrating its 2nd anniversary in September 2022.


If you’re not familiar with Shein yet, let me provide you with a brief introduction. Shein, pronounced “She-In,” is a fast fashion brand based in South China. It offers an extensive range of inexpensive clothing and accessories for women, men, and children. With an ever-changing inventory, Shein is known for providing the latest trends at remarkably low prices.The founder of Shein is Chris Xu, a Chinese-American born in the United States. Interestingly, Xu does not have a background in fashion or design. He initially worked as an SEO specialist. While it is often hoped that fashion companies are established by talented designers with a genuine passion for fashion and a desire to express their creativity. In the case of Shein, it was founded by a businessman driven by profit. This is a common trend among many large companies in the industry.


History of Shein

Despite being established in 2008, Shein has gained global recognition in recent years as an online retailer known for offering a vast selection of affordable and stylish clothing. While the concept may seem appealing, there are drawbacks to consider when it comes to Shein.

Unfortunately, it’s a catch-22 for consumers since most affordable brands or those catering to diverse sizes tend to fall under the fast fashion umbrella. Shein falls in line with other popular clothing retailers like Forever 21, Boohoo, and Old Navy. It primarily appeals to shoppers with budget constraints or those whose clothing sizes may fluctuate.

Offering a wide range of plus-size options, providing an inclusive platform for plus-size and curvy individuals to partake in fashion trends that are often inaccessible through other retailers. This level of inclusivity sets Shein apart from its competitors, who often fall short in this aspect.

Cider or Shein: Which is More Ethical

As you now know, both of these brands are fast fashion. This means none of them are ethically sustainable. Although, both of these brands have a huge impact on the modern fashion industry. When evaluating the environmental and ethical aspects of Cider and Shein, it is crucial to consider multiple factors, including their environmental impact, carbon emissions, animal welfare, and labor practices.

Environmental Impact

Both Cider and Shein operate within the fast fashion industry, which is widely recognized for its detrimental environmental impact. Fast fashion brands often prioritize rapid production, leading to increased resource consumption, pollution, and waste generation. The use of synthetic materials, such as polyester, further contributes to the environmental footprint due to their production processes and slow decomposition.

Cider, being a newer brand, may not have extensive information available regarding its specific environmental initiatives. However, as part of the fast fashion industry, it is important to scrutinize their commitment to sustainable practices, including responsible sourcing of materials, reduction of waste, and implementation of circular economy principles.

Shein, as a global online retailer, has faced criticism for its fast fashion model, which encourages excessive consumption and contributes to environmental degradation. However, the company claims to have implemented recycling initiatives, reduced packaging waste and introduced eco-friendly collections. While the effectiveness and extent of these measures require further examination, they demonstrate a recognition of the need to address environmental concerns.

Environmental Impact
Environmental Impact

Carbon Emissions

Fast fashion brands are known for their high carbon emissions due to energy-intensive production processes, transportation, and disposal of clothing items. Both Cider and Shein operate within this industry, and thus, it is important to assess their efforts to minimize their carbon footprint.

Shein has expressed efforts to reduce its carbon emissions, including recycling initiatives and packaging waste reduction. However, the overall impact of these measures needs to be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of their carbon reduction strategy.

Cider’s specific initiatives regarding carbon emissions are not readily available. To determine their environmental commitment, it is essential to examine their manufacturing processes, transportation methods, and energy efficiency measures.

Carbon Emissions
Carbon Emissions

Animal welfare

Concerning animal welfare, it is important to consider the use of animal-derived materials in fashion production, such as fur, leather, and exotic skins.

Shein has faced criticism in the past for the use of real fur in their products. However, the company has stated that they no longer sell items made from real fur and are committed to being fur-free. This demonstrates a positive step towards ethical sourcing and animal welfare.

For Cider, information regarding their use of animal-derived materials and their stance on animal welfare is not readily available. Consumers concerned about animal welfare should seek transparency and information from the brand regarding their materials sourcing and ethical practices.

Animal welfare
Animal welfare

Labor practices

Another critical aspect to evaluate is the labor practices of Cider and Shein. Fast fashion brands have faced scrutiny for exploitative labor conditions, including low wages, long working hours, and unsafe environments.

Both Cider and Shein should be assessed for their commitment to fair labor practices, including ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and supporting workers’ rights throughout their supply chains. Transparency and third-party certifications can provide valuable insights into their labor practices.

Labor practices
Labor practices

10 Sustainable Alternatives to Shein & Cider

When searching for sustainable alternatives to Shein and Cider, there are several brands that prioritize ethical practices and sustainability in their operations. These brands provide sustainable alternatives to Shein and Cider, offering conscious consumers the opportunity to support ethical fashion choices while reducing their environmental impact.

Here are some examples:

1. Lucy & Yak

Lucy & Yak is a UK-based brand known for its ethical and sustainable clothing. They specialize in colorful and comfortable dungarees and other apparel made from organic and recycled materials. The brand emphasizes fair trade production, transparent supply chains, and a focus on worker welfare.


CHNGE is a sustainable clothing brand that aims to create positive change through its products. They offer a range of apparel made from eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and recycled polyester. CHNGE focuses on transparency, ethical manufacturing, and donating a portion of its profits to various causes.

3. Plant Faced Clothing

Plant Faced Clothing is a vegan and sustainable brand that combines ethical fashion with plant-based values. They offer stylish and cruelty-free clothing made from organic cotton and other sustainable materials. Plant Faced Clothing promotes a plant-based lifestyle and supports animal rights.

4. Kotn

Kotn is a Canadian brand that focuses on producing wardrobe staples from ethically sourced Egyptian cotton. They work directly with cotton farming communities to ensure fair wages and sustainable practices. Kotn is committed to transparency and minimizing its environmental impact.


WAWWA is a sustainable clothing brand that creates eco-friendly and ethically made apparel. They use organic and recycled materials to produce their clothing range. WAWWA also collaborates with various organizations to support environmental and social causes.

6. Organique

Organique is a sustainable fashion brand that combines style with ethical production. They offer a range of clothing made from organic and eco-friendly materials. Organique promotes fair trade practices, transparency, and environmental consciousness.

7. Spell

Spell is an Australian brand that focuses on sustainable and bohemian-inspired fashion. They prioritize natural fibers, organic materials, and responsible production processes. Spell aims to reduce waste and create timeless clothing pieces.

8. Mila.Vert

Mila.Vert is a sustainable clothing brand based in Slovenia. They create minimalist and timeless designs using eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, Tencel, and linen. Mila.Vert emphasizes fair production, local manufacturing, and transparency.

9. Afends

Afends is an Australian brand that promotes sustainable and organic fashion. They offer a wide range of clothing made from hemp, organic cotton, and recycled materials. Afends prioritizes ethical production, supporting community initiatives, and reducing their environmental impact.

10. Frankie

Frankie is a sustainable and ethical fashion brand based in the United States. They produce clothing using organic and eco-friendly materials, focusing on timeless designs and quality craftsmanship. Frankie supports fair wages, transparency, and responsible manufacturing practices.


1. Why is fast fashion harmful to the environment?

Fast fashion contributes to environmental harm in various ways. It leads to increased carbon emissions due to energy-intensive manufacturing processes and transportation. Fast fashion also generates significant textile waste and pollution, as garments are often discarded quickly.

2. What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion refers to clothing and accessories that are produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. It involves practices such as using eco-friendly materials, promoting fair labor conditions, minimizing waste, and prioritizing ethical sourcing.

3. How can I support sustainable fashion?

You can support sustainable fashion by making mindful purchasing decisions. This includes buying from brands that prioritize sustainability, choosing higher quality and durable items, embracing second-hand and vintage shopping, and promoting clothing longevity through proper care.

4. Are sustainable fashion brands more expensive?

While some sustainable fashion brands may have higher price points, it is not a rule across the board. The perceived higher cost can be attributed to factors such as ethical sourcing, fair labor practices, and higher-quality materials. However, there are also affordable sustainable options available.

5. How can I ensure a brand is genuinely sustainable?

To ensure a brand is genuinely sustainable, look for certifications such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or Fair Trade labels. Check if the brand provides transparency about its supply chain, manufacturing processes, and environmental initiatives.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to comparing brands like Cider and Shein, it is important to consider various factors such as environmental impact, ethical practices, labor conditions, and transparency. Both brands operate within the fast fashion industry, which is associated with sustainability challenges and concerns. While Shein has faced criticism for its fast fashion model and environmental impact, they have made some efforts towards sustainability, including recycling initiatives and discontinuing the use of real fur.

Cider, being a newer brand, may have limited information available regarding its specific practices. It is crucial to assess their commitment to sustainable sourcing, waste reduction, and ethical labor practices. Consumers should explore alternative brands that prioritize ethical and environmentally conscious practices. Many sustainable fashion brands focus on transparency, fair trade, the use of eco-friendly materials, and promoting worker welfare.


Todd Smith is a trained ecologist with five years of experience in environmental conservation and sustainability. He has a deep passion for promoting sustainable practices and has developed a thorough understanding of the natural world and its complex interconnections.

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