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Why is TEMU So Darn Cheap? A Look Into Fast Fashion

Megan Hayes | News Editor

Most of us have heard of the term "fast fashion": it refers to a business model of designing in-trend high fashion designs, and mass producing them to be sold at a low cost. This brings these styles to retail quickly, combatting supply and demand of current styles without consumers having to suffer a catwalk-trend price. What started out as a revolution, especially for young adults emerging into the fashion scene, has turned around into a crisis which we do not yet know the depths of.

To keep fast fashion businesses up and running, some corners must be cut to get from point A to point B - low quality materials to finished, sellable clothes. Many companies have been accused of human labor issues, with most of the products being sourced from poorer regions of the world with less coverage of workers' rights and union action. Some buyers of major fast fashion companies like SHEIN have reported finding notes calling for help within their packages of clothes, and many facilities that produce clothes from SHEIn have been reported to be violating child labor laws, despite having a "strict code of conduct" against it. What is possibly a major human rights violation that is striking poorer communities into these unfair working conditions is being consumer by European and Western countries at a shocking rate. A study in 2022 by ThredUP reported that 72% of college student shopped fast fashion - which is a monstrous number. Now think of the entire population of high school and young adults outside of the college population that are also ordering these products - yikes. The issue is not the morality of the customers - it is how readily these products are pushed by their price and marketing, making it one of the few affordable options, especially for lower income families.

Now, enter TEMU. TEMU is an online shopping company very similar to SHEIN, selling everything from clothes to surgery scrubs to electronics to furniture. TEMU has recently become under scrutiny for their shockingly low prices, combatting SHEIN directly in a price competition. Therefore, with this as well as the constant flow of gift cards and 50% coupons offered by the website, the company has a very reliable flow of commerce. But, this begs the question - why is it so cheap? With the same low quality as items produced by SHEIN, speculations are rising - what other corners are being cut to be able to sell these products at these prices?

TEMU is owned and operated by PDD Holdings, which is a majorly popular e-commerce platform based out of China, which recently moved to Dublin. PDD Holdings is a self proclaimed "agricultural group", and is notoriously shady about the business happenings behind closed doors. Many people who wanted to tackle the mystery of TEMU had ordered packages to test out the interesting products for the low price, but many never receive their packages, or they take months to arrive. As we can see from many YouTube reviews of TEMU packages, these creators open up packages only to be met with the wrong products, or the right products followed by a horrid industrial smell.

Additionally, the American stock market is being dominated by companies like TEMU. What we are unsure of as a fraud or a legitimate but shady company has racked up quite a large market value. So, what are they hiding? No business sleuths have been able to uncover the truth about this multi-billion dollar company that is dominating retail. We continue to hope to get an answer, bringing justice to those behind the scenes where unfair labor is used.


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