Discover phenomenal alternatives to Chinese fast-fashion retailer SHEIN for trendy and cheap clothing for women and men.
Are you a fan of Shein, or does the company give you pause?
This post explores a range of e-commerce destinations for trendy and cheap fast-fashion brands like Shein from stalwarts like Asos, Boohoo and H&M to ethical and sustainable clothing alternatives such as Milk It and Pact.
The Rise of Fast Fashion
The global market for fast-fashion is large and growing. Fast fashion sales totaled $68.6 billion in 2020 and could rise to almost $212 billion by 2030.
While companies like H&M and Zara pioneered the rise of cheap fashion over the past two decades, a new breed of direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands from the United States, Europe and China have accelerated and refined affordable, of-the-moment clothing in recent years.
Companies like Asos, Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and SHEIN have leveraged TikTok and Instagram both to respond to the latest trends via small-batch manufacturing and to push their own designs out via influencers and slick ads.
Fashion statistics suggest that consumers have mixed feelings about fast-fashion.
While more than fifty percent of Americans think fast-fashion is going out of style, 48% of Americans don’t want to be photographed in the same clothing twice, and young adults feel pressure to wear a different outfit every time they go out.
Before getting into alternatives to Shein, let’s take a look at the cheap Chinese fast-fashion giant:
What is SHEIN?
Shein is a Chinese e-commerce platform owned by the Zoetop Business Co. that has become a wildly popular giant in online trendy fast fashion, particularly among teens and young adults. By the end of 2021, Shein had grown to command nearly one-third of the fast-fashion market in the United States.
With a global reach through e-commerce, it sells stylish clothes for men, women, and children. The United States is its biggest consumer market.
Bloomberg News describes the appeal:
The kids…are all over it. As with so many online phenomena, Gen Z and young millennial shoppers have propelled Shein’s rise, in thrall to the company’s never-ending, always-changing catalog of clothes at prices that stretch even the most meager allowance.How Trump’s Trade War Built Shein, China’s First Global Fashion Giant, Bloomberg News
Shein ranks second behind Amazon on a list of favorite e-commerce sites for teens.
Shein, observes Packy McCormick in the Not Boring Substack, “makes Amazon look positively expensive.”
One reason Shein has become astronomically successful is the efficiency of its supply chain.
From clothing design to manufacturing, the company maintains tight control over every facet of its business operations, and it makes effective use of automation, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to produce large volumes of clothes targeted at different markets.
TikTok and SHEIN Hauls
Social media platforms, particularly Instagram and TikTok, have been integral to Shein’s success. In fact, Shein is the most mentioned brand on TikTok according to Statista.
Younger consumers with trendy tastes and limited income are especially drawn to Shein, and the company uses an arsenal of strategies to quickly test the appeal of new products and secure online sales.
Nguyen highlights how social media is integral to Shein’s on-demand, small-batch approach to production. “If a specific top goes viral overnight on TikTok… Shein will be able to instantaneously ramp up production on the garment and place additional orders depending on demand,” she writes in Vox.
Through its massive selection of quickly-produced, small-batch, of-the-moment clothing, Shein serves as a destination for cosplay as well as a variety of aesthetics and subcultures including Grey, Dark and Light Academia, Cottagecore, Grunge, Metrosexual, Rude Boys and Rude Girls, and Thriftcore.
What does a SHEIN Haul mean?
A Shein haul refers to the practice of ordering, unboxing and displaying a large amount of cheap clothing from Chinese fast-fashion retailer Shein in front of the camera for social media. While Shein hauls have become most popular on TikTok, there are plenty of examples of the practice on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.
Who founded SHEIN?
Where is SHEIN based?
Shein’s corporate headquarters is located in Guangzhou, China. Shein’s Founder originally launched the company from Nanjing, China.
When was SHEIN founded?
Shein was founded in 2008 by entrepreneur Chris Xu.
Who owns SHEIN?
Does SHEIN operate physical stores?
Although Shein has opened up pop-up stores in Chicago, Miami, and other major U.S. cities, the company doesn’t have a network of brick-and-mortar locations in the United States.
How do you pronounce SHEIN?
The correct way to pronounce Shein is “SHE-in,” not “shine,” according to the company via a tweet from its official Twitter account.
Hi there! It’s pronounced SHE- in. 😀— SHEIN (@SHEIN_official) March 19, 2021
What does SHEIN mean?
According to Euromonitor, the Chinese pronunciation of Shein is “Shang-yin,” which means “addiction.”
Searching for Alternatives to SHEIN
Shein is just one example of a cheap fast-fashion retailer, and has also seen its share of controversy. The fast-fashion market, which was estimated at $68.6 billion in 2020, is growing rapidly and could reach almost $212 billion in 2030.
If you’re looking for other fast fashion brands for women and men, consider these alternatives to Shein for cheap clothing:
List: Trendy Alternatives to SHEIN for Cheap Clothing
These brands and stores like Shein may be a better fit for on-trend style and affordable fashion. I’ve done my best to note whether the stores cater to women and/or men:
- Asos might be the best alternative to SHEIN for an outrageously large selection of dirt-cheap and stylish fashion for women and men. Asos is an awesome choice for everything from lace-up knit camis and sequin-laced mini-dresses for women to skinny-fit button down shirts for men to super-affordable trench coats for men and women.
- Boohoo sports Insanely-affordable clothing for men and women from a UK-based retailer.
- Pact Apparel offers amazingly affordable apparel for women and men and is an outstanding alternative to Shein for sustainable clothing.
- Amazon Prime Labels Lark and Ro and Goodthreads offer trendy fast-fashion alternatives to Shein for women and men.
- Cotton On – Try Cotton On for affordable, trendy-yet-sustainable clothing for women and men with an Australian flair.
- Urban Outfitters is a great brand like Shein for trendy, occasionally-grungy, fast fashion for women and men from their house brands like UO, BDG and Out from Under.
- American Eagle (AE), the mall staple, sports cute floral-print ruffle mini dresses and cropped cable-knit cardigans for women, and solid joggers and denim for men and women.
- Nasty Gal started with 22-year-old Founder Sophia Amoruso selling vintage out of a basement in San Francisco over eBay in 2006. The company rose and fell quickly, declaring bankruptcy in 2016. The UK-based group revived the brand, which markets to “the ‘girl in progress'” who is “badass to the core, ever-evolving and growing, striving to be better every. damn. day.” Shop Nastygal for everything from cute Valentine’s day lingerie and pajama sets to faux leather knee-high boots to bodycon mini-skirts.
- PrettyLittleThing, another UK-based alternative to Shein, was co-founded in 2012 by Umar Kamani and is part of the bourgeoning Boohoo group empire. Prettylittlething has cheap, trendy fashion from racer bodysuits to roll neck sweaters to crop tops to slinky lingerie.
- Meshki is a Sydney, Australia-based on-trend clothing brand for women. While their clothes aren’t as insanely cheap as SHEIN, their affordable-luxury lineup of dresses, tops, bottoms and basics won’t break the bank. (Think dresses in the $75-$100 range.) Meshkis’ mission is “to empower people worldwide to be confident, ambitious & unstoppable (and dressed head to toe in Meshki).
- Modcloth is a fun alternative to Shein that focuses on fast and cheap vintage-inspired fashion for women.
- Uniqlo – Look to Japanese fast-fashion house Uniqlo as an excellent-if-less-flashy alternative to Shein for women, men and kids with a reputation for durability.
- Express is another shopping mall favorite that sells cheap fast fashion, including affordable denim and tops, for women and men. Try Upwest, their new comfort-focused offshoot for another alternative to Shein.
- Forever 21 continues to focus on fast-fashion for women as well as men and girls, following their emergence from bankruptcy. The company is an intriguing alternative to Shein for affordable premium denim, activewear and graphic t-shirts for women and men.
- H&M, the omnichannel global retailer based in Sweden, is one of the pioneers of trendy-fast fashion for women and men, and has to be on any list of alternatives to Shein.
- DePop is wild. Billed as social e-commerce, it lets users sell designer, vintage and preloved clothing online with users modeling their wares. I’ve seen everything from a handmade vintage retro tapestry corset to a subversive grunge fairy green long sleeve top to a Vintage Stussy Velour Tee.
- Beginning Boutique – Founded by Gen Z entrepreneur Sarah Timmerman, Australia-based Beginning Boutique positions itself as “the go-to online destination for all your weekend event needs” for women. They claim that “if you’ve got a ticket to it, we’ve got an outfit for it.” While the company isn’t as ridiculously cheap as Shein, look for unique going-out outfits including sexy dresses and unique cropped tee shirts. Get free shipping to the United States on orders of $100 or more.
- Stradivarius is Zara’s “trendy little sister” (for women only), and an excellent European-based alternative to Shein.
- Milk It – This UK based trendy clothing company makes its affordable garments using recycled or sustainably-produced materials, making it an ethical alternative to Shein.
- 4th and Reckless – This UK-based alternative to Shein makes “Iconic tailored clothing and footwear with an edge. Nordstrom carries the brand too.
- Fashion Nova calls itself “unapologetically sexy” and “the world’s leading quick-to-market apparel and lifestyle brand” for women, which turns around seasonal trendy styles quickly and cheaply like Shein. Look to Fashion Nova for cheap bodysuits, miniskirts, dresses, jeans, shoes and more for women.
- Charlotte Russe – Headquartered in California, Charlotte Russe is targeted to appeal to young women in the teens and twenties with a mix of dirt-cheap fast fashion that mixes everything from denim to fleece to booties and cartoon-printed onesies, making it an interesting U.S.-based alternative to Shein.
- Charming Charlie – Omnichannel retailer Charming Charlie is famous for color throughout its retail stores and across its lineup of trendy clothing. (The clothes are organized by color.) Founded by entrepreneur Charlie Chanaratsopon, the brand has seen its ups and downs — it filed for bankruptcy twice — but has endured as a solid U.S.-based alternative to Shein.
- Hot Topic is a grungy alternative to Shein. As I wrote elsewhere, “for fashion, try Hot Topic for jeans as well as a dizzying assortment of graphic t-shirts for men and women; skater skirts, plaid pants and themed leggings for women and hoodies, and wild short-sleeve button-up shirts for men.”
- Missguided – Aimed at Millennials and Gen Z women, look to UK-based omnichannel retailer Missguided for what the company labels “forward-thinking online fashion.” Like other alternatives to Shein, Missguided specializes in frequent blowout sales off a large selection of racy dresses, cozy knitwear and loungewear, tops, denim and more. (I came across one for 80% off!) I like that Missguided puts its mission front and center: “to empower females globally to be confident in themselves and be who they want to be.”
- Oh Polly is a sleek and super-trendy online fashion boutique for women. Their fashion forward pieces, including under-$50 mini, midi and maxi dresses, are all dsigned in the UK.
- Dolls Kill is a contrast to fast-fashion brands like SHEIN and PrettyLittleThing, offering clothes for “misfits and Miss Legits.”
Other Chinese Stores Like SHEIN
There are a handful of other fast-fashion brands like Shein based in China that offer a similar business model.
- Romwe. If you’re looking for stores like Shein, know that Romwe is owned by Shein and they cross-sell clothing via each others’ platforms. Romwe markets its clothing as cute, fun, and extremely low-cost fashion for women and men.
- Emery Rose is another Chinese fast fashion site owned by Shein’s parent company Zoetop Business Co. according to Justia.
- Modlily. Modlily positions itself as an online boutique for trendy women’s clothing. It offers thousands of items, many of them at rock-bottom prices.
- Choies. Geared largely towards female customers, Choies offers cheap clothes in a variety of styles.
- YesStyle. Based in Hong Kong, YesStyle focuses on Asian fashion for women and men. Many of their garments have been produced by a variety of Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese brands.
- Allylikes is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s competitor to SHEIN. Currently, Allylikes only ships to Europe (not the United States) and caters to women only.
- Esprit. Founded in San Francisco and headquartered in Hong Kong and Germany, Esprit provides a variety of fast-fashion clothing for women, men, and children. The company remains active in certain Asian and European markets but not currently in North America, though that may change in the future.
- FashionMia. Although FashionMia has a men’s collection, it focuses primarily on women’s fashion, emphasizing the affordable prices and irresistible attractiveness of the trendy clothing it offers.
- Zaful, DressLily, SammyDress, RoseGal, TwinkleDeals, Nasty Dress, and TrendsGal. The China-based “ShenZhen Global Egrow E-Commerce Co” operates a constellation of fast-fashion alternatives to Shein that has a rocky history of marketing ultra-low priced clothing to women via slick ads on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Deep Dive: Review 16 of the Best Stores Like SHEIN for Affordable Trendy Clothing
Below is a deeper dive into some of my favorite alternatives to Shein for trendy, cheap clothing for women and men:
Pact Apparel is one of my top picks for sustainable clothing brands, and it offers reliably high-quality, ethically-sourced apparel for men, women, and children. The company prioritizes fair trade and commits to avoiding sweatshops and child labor and yet their clothing is still remarkably affordable. Its garments are made with organic cotton, which is more environmentally friendly than regular cotton.
For women, Pact shines with flare midi dresses, cozy fishermen sweaters and chunky cardigans, and basics like bodysuits, sweats and .
Pact has also become an ethical alternative to Shein for kids’ clothing, including zip-up hoodies, basic tee shirts and shorts, tanks and camis, shorts and pants.
London-based Asos has in-house designers and brands, and also curates items from hundreds of other brands from Ralph Lauren and The North Face. Asos is especially popular among young men and women, which has led to a partnership with Nordstrom to extend their retail reach.
Asos sells an outrageous variety of super-cheap, on-trend clothing.
For women, Asos has advertised high-waisted skinny jeans for women for as low as $18, vintage-inspired leggings and smock dresses both for under $8, halter tops for $15, and hourglass wrap tops for under $20.
Men can find stylish striped t-shirts for $15, comfy hoodies for under $20, half-zip sweaters from $21, and chinos and “smart pants” from around $13.
In addition to all of that, Asos Marketplace is a stellar destination for vintage and pre-loved clothing for women and men.
Whether you want a low-key, laidback look or something more bold and colorful, Asos has you covered.
Boohoo is an online-only company that produces trendy and insanely cheap clothes quickly, a business model that has propelled its success among teenagers and young adults. The company produces some of its garments in the U.K., where it was founded.
For women, check out Boohoo for $8 sweater dresses and sweeping wide leg pants and oversized boyfriend shirts for $20 or less alongside velour tracksuits, textured wool coats and ruched midi dresses.
Men’s clothing ranges from biker jackets and faux fur coats to jeans with graphic prints. Although Boohoo remains popular, it has been facing pressure from its young customer base to become more ethical.
For women, Cotton On has an excellent selection of basics, sweats and sleepwear including crop tanks, baby tees, seamless v-neck bodysuits and classic sweatpants alongside trendy going-out clothing like knit midi skirts, longline cardigan sweaters, miniskirts and sleek long-sleeve mini-dresses.
Cotton On’s fast-fashion clothing for men includes everything from organic t-shirts to heavy plaid overshirts to relaxed tapered jeans.
Cotton On may not be the absolute cheapest option around, but they have a range of sustainability initiatives in support of people and the planet, making their affordable clothing is a terrific alternative to Shein.
The clean, low-key, and classy designs give a timeless quality to the garments. Along with selling beautiful and durable clothing for women and children, Uniqlo offers men a wide selection of items. For men, look to Uniqlo for anti-odor socks, pile-lined pants, and long-sleeve t-shirts all made with the company’s innovative insulation technology. Uniqlo also makes my favorite affordable cashmere sweaters.
Amazon Prime Fashion labels
People shop at Amazon because of the online giant’s reliability, convenience, and affordability, which includes deals for Prime members. In addition to its extensive selection of clothing for women and children, Amazon has multiple in-house brands that are known for stylish men’s wear. These include Goodthreads, which is an alternative to J. Crew and Banana Republic. With what’s available on Amazon, you can put together a variety of outfits for leisure, business, and athletics.
American Eagle (AE)
Longevity and adaptability are two impressive qualities you see in American Eagle, which is known for its high-quality casual apparel. It has done an exceptional job appealing to teenagers and young adults and succeeding in both online sales and through brick-and-mortar stores. For male shoppers, the company’s durable and stylish activewear and loungewear are especially appealing. The jeans are also noteworthy and come in a range of styles, including the men’s athletic-fit jeans and the flare jeans, jeggings, and high-waisted jeans for women.
Urban Outfitters (UO)
Over decades, Urban Outfitters has built a reputation as a trendy and forward-thinking company. Though UO isn’t the cheapest alternative to Shein on this list, the company gives men and women memorable ways of expressing themselves through apparel and home décor.
For women, Urban Outfitters carries everything from high-waisted flair jeans and plaid slit pants to satin mini-skirts, shimmery mini-dresses and “modern love corsets.”
For men, Urban Outfitters offers a trendy selection of graphic t-shirts, oversized shackets and shirt jackets and variously baggy, skinny, and checkerboard jeans from their own brands and others such as Puma and Ralph Lauren.
One of the new ventures from Urban Outfitters is an online thrift store; it appeals to people who want to resell clothes and lessen the environmental impact of fast fashion.
For even more options, see Modern Fellows’ list of brands like Urban Outfitters.
With hundreds of brick-and-mortar locations and a design studio in New York City, Express is a major player in fast fashion, selling well-made clothing staples for men and women. The attire ranges from classy full suits to the pajamas, plush robes, and other supremely comfortable clothes that belong to the UpWest label. When launching UpWest in 2019, Express committed to donating some of the profits to charities that promote mental health and well-being.
Launched in London, Depop is an application where people sell clothes to each other directly, including vintage pieces and items from top brands. Shopping for men’s wear, you may find flannel-lined pants from J. Crew or a graphic t-shirt with the logo of your favorite team. Of the more than 30 million users on Depop, roughly 90 percent are under the age of 26. Seeing the promise in the resale platform, which extends the life of clothes, Etsy recently purchased it for $1.6 billion.
As a giant in fast fashion, H&M has been setting trends for decades in clothes for men, women, and children. The Swedish company offers many cleanly designed classic items, such as V-neck sweaters, wool-blend coats, and cotton chinos. As the fashion industry struggles with addressing issues of sustainability, H&M has been investing millions of dollars in various solutions, including new technology for recycling clothes.
Although Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in 2020, it continues to offer trendy clothing under a group of new owners in the Authentic Brand Group. (Side note: Authentic Brand Group also resuscitated Brooks Brothers post-bankruptcy.)
Forever 21 is most strongly associated with young women’s fashion and the pleasure of shopping at malls, but it also sells clothing for women and men online at low prices, such as crew socks, drawstring hoodies, and other attractive athleisure. The brand’s push for greater social responsibility includes recycling shipping boxes and auditing factories for unsafe conditions.
What Are Your Favorite Alternatives to SHEIN?
It’s always a pleasure to discover stylish clothing brands. Please share your own picks for alternatives to Shein and what you like best about your favorite companies. Highlight the ones you’ve come to trust for the quality of their garments, the reliability of their services, and the integrity they display in their business operations.
Photo credit: Featured photo courtesy of Lucas Hoang via Unsplash.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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