Conscious Couture: Unraveling the Ethics Behind Fast Fashion's Costly Threads

Conscious Couture: Unraveling the Ethics Behind Fast Fashion's Costly Threads

July 22, 20231 min read

Sheng Lu didn't have to do any research to see the impact of Shein, the China-based fast fashion behemoth. He simply looked around his classroom and saw his Gen Z students clicking through the app for low-priced, high-quality clothing that could get made and delivered with lightning speed.

But through years of analysis of the fast fashion industry, Lu, associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, is well aware of the catch: the company has been accused of wasteful use of textile and employing questionable labor practices. He can discuss the impact of Shein and other fast fashion retailers as well as questions surrounding their success and business practices.

Lu has also been working with traditional retailers to promote sustainable practices. Under his guidance, a group of UD graduates collaborated with leaders at Macy’s in sustainability, sourcing, product development, raw materials and design.

The students' research, conducted during their senior year, aimed to identify the challenges and opportunities associated with the company's shift toward a more sustainable future. By focusing on expanding the use of recycled content in Macy’s private brands, the work reflects a shared commitment by both UD and Macy’s to drive positive change in the fashion industry.

Connect with:
  • Sheng Lu
    Sheng Lu Associate Professor, Fashion and Apparel Studies

    Prof. Lu's research focuses on the economic and business aspects of the global textile and apparel industry.

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