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Alice McCall Faces Scrutiny for SHEIN Partnership

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By Published On: November 28, 20230 Comments

Aussie designer Alice McCall has made her comeback with a new collection and an unlikely collaborator which has been met with scrutiny from fans and critics alike.

Earlier this month, online fashion and lifestyle retailer SHEIN launched its collaboration capsule collection with Australian fashion designer Alice McCall. 

30 pieces of McCall’s self titled women’s clothing brand have been developed for the ‘flirty, fun and feminine’ collaboration.

The limited edition pieces were made with rescued textiles through a partnership with Queen of Raw to source high-quality existing materials from brands and retailers looking to responsibly clear out their excess fabric inventory, ultimately reducing the environmental footprint of the products.

“I have always resonated with the idea that my designs can become attainable to a wider audience, so when the opportunity to partner with SHEIN presented itself, it felt like I was able to turn this vision into reality,” said Alice.

“A highlight for me was that, for the first time in my two decades as a designer, I have been able to work with rescued fabrics and have also used recycled polyester in this collection,” continued Alice. “The styles feel fresh, elevated, easy to wear and obviously Alice.”

This collaboration comes at a key time for the brand. Renowned for its high-end designs, the women’s fashion brand collapsed into liquidation in February this year as it fell into debt and the company was unable to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic. 

While the collaboration offers a lifeline for Alice McCall, fans aren’t happy with the designer’s decision to work with SHEIN. SHEIN has been the subject of a series of controversies since its launch. Its working conditions have been criticised for violating labour laws – which the company disputes. Alongside this, SHEIN has also been accused of plagiarising designs in the past and of continuing to produce vast amounts of waste. With its cheap materials with little longevity, micro-trend designs, toxic chemical processing, production of microplastics, and fast global shipping times all contributing unnecessary carbon emissions and waste. 

Fans of Alice McCall have expressed their concern, stating that the use of recycled materials doesn’t make up for the ethical and environmental controversies SHEIN has failed to properly address. McCall responded to the uproar stating, “Everyone has a right to express their views. I’m just very much focused on the launch of this collection which I truly believe in,” She told 7news. “This collab will allow a whole new audience, who may not have been able to afford an Alice McCall piece in the past, the opportunity to purchase a piece that is every bit as good as anything I have previously created.” The collection ranges from $12.49 USD for a bralette to US$68.99 USD for a dress, far cheaper than McCall’s other designs. 

SHEIN remains popular among Gen Z, despite its controversies. New research from illumin, analysed the top 50 most-viewed TikTok videos under clothing and home hauls to identify which brands and products appeared most frequently – and how much they cost. SHEIN was the brand that appeared most in the #hauls, accounting for 42 percent of the total products listed across home and clothes hauls, with an average cost of $9.33 per item. Valued at 100 billion USD, SHEIN has exploded in popularity in recent years, proving particularly popular with customers aged 18-34, who make up 57 percent of shoppers. 

Despite the controversies, SHEIN is making an effort to clean up its image and has commited to a series of initiatives. Alongside this collaboration that champions the use of recycled material, the retailer has released a series of ESG and people focused goals including decarbonising its supply chain, sourcing responsible products and materials, and protecting biodiversity and animal welfare. More of SHEIN’s “evoluSHEIN” impact goals and initiatives can be found here.

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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