Yes, the controversial online retail company is entering the reality show world with their “Shein X 100K Challenge.” It has a pretty eclectic cast of judges behind it, too: Khloe Kardashian, celebrity stylist Law Roach, designer Christian Siriano, former J.Crew wunderkind and now Loveseen founder Jenna Lyons, and InStyle Magazine style director Laurel Pantin.
I don’t know if I’m more shocked about the existence of the show or about the cast it managed to wrangle, TBH. It’s not just the fact that Shein is a fast fashion brand, one that’s been described as making the rest of “fast fashion look slow.” Of course, that’s one factor: Imagine if McDonald’s started a cooking competition and got Gordon Ramsay and a representative of the Michelin Guide as judges.
Shein doesn’t exactly have the best reputation, especially in the fashion industry. There’s already the fact that it’s a fast fashion company, which necessitates translating high-end trendy designs into extremely affordable pieces meant to be thrown away when the next trend hits. But more importantly, it’s known for stealing designs from up-and-coming artists and indie designers, especially Black women.
This isn’t meant to shame people who buy from the site, of course. There’s a lot of valid reasons why people shop there, from the prices to the inclusive sizing ranges. But we can’t discount that the brand is able to do all that because of its alleged shady practices.
So it’s extremely weird seeing the company start its own young designer search. Judging from its panel of judges, this is a serious attempt at credibility, too. And it does seem like it has noble intentions, with the winners of the show getting a large cash prize.
On Instagram, Lyons defended her participation in the contest, saying, “[The] ENTIRE PROCESS was designed to support young designers, and all of the contestants were incredibly talented, passionate, and deserving of a chance at winning 100k (sic).” She also encouraged people to see the show when it comes out before jumping to conclusions.
She and Siriano also said that they’ll be deleting comments about the show, with Siriano saying he was “deleting the negativity.”
I don’t know! It all seems a little too sus to me. I can’t be the only one feeling a bit confused that the brand famous for stealing from young designers is now making a big show about supporting young designers, right?