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We Love These Sustainable Summer Look Alternatives to SHEIN

by Meredith Labuda

A woman on a boat out on the water smiling and wearing a white dress and sunglasses
Photo by Shopify Photos from Burst

It’s summer! Which means your TikTok For You Page and YouTube Recommended will soon be filled with summer clothing hauls. SHEIN is one of the most popular online clothing brands where people buy mass amounts of new clothes. They’re known for constantly having new styles that are also cheap.

If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is.

An article from Time just confirmed what many already knew to be true: SHEIN is a brand with both unsustainable and unethical practices. According to Time, SHEIN released 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2022, which is well above the 45% target that the UN set for fast fashion companies. Even worse than the carbon emissions are the conditions that SHEIN employees work under—they work up to 75-hour long shifts with few breaks in unsafe buildings that lack windows or emergency exits. On top of that, employees make about $20 a day; however, up to $14 can be docked for work mistakes.

Luckily, SHEIN is not the only company where you can purchase your summer wardrobe! There are many sustainable brands that sell summer basics—from bikinis to classic tanks and shorts. These clothes are also higher quality, so you can invest in durable, timeless pieces instead of having to buy a new wardrobe each summer. Influencers such as Alessandra Rosa and Kristen Leo even do sustainable clothing hauls, finding looks for the summer that aren’t fast fashion.

Shop the 7 summer essentials below to create your own sustainable summer haul!

7 Summer Essentials - Sustainable Fashion Swaps!

Crochet Tops:

three women wearing crochet tank tops
Crochet Tank Tops from SHEIN (left) and Marine Layer (center and right)

Crochet tops have been one of the hottest clothing items this summer, and SHEIN’s tank top (left) is a design that you can find at pretty much any store right now. However, once the crochet phase is over, you’ll want a top that is timeless, that you can still wear. The Cora Crochet Tank and the Caro Cropped Crochet Tank from Marine Layer are unique and fun styles, not a carbon copy of a quick trend. They also promise that their yarn is long-lasting and practically wrinkle-proof. You can buy the Cora Tank for $128, and the Caro Tank is usually $118, but is currently on sale for $58.

Halter Tops:

two women wearing tank tops - the one on the left is lower cut
Halter Tops from SHEIN (left) and Everlane (right)

Halter tops are a summer staple, such as SHEIN’s halter (left). Everlane’s Rib Soft Knit Halter Top (right) is a more classy and sophisticated take on the tank. It’s more loose-fitting and airy, as the top was made TENCEL Lyocell, a man-made fabric from wood materials that is known for its lightness. This top is simple yet versatile, it could be worn for a relaxing summer day or to a brunch out with friends. The halter top is available in 4 colors and is currently retailed at $48.

Maxi Skirts:

Two women wearing long colorful skirts
Maxi Skirts from SHEIN (left) and Afends (right)

Maxi skirts are a great way to add some flair to your summer outfits, and SHEIN has a plethora of them (left). However, Afends also has maxi skirts like the Liquid Maxi Skirt made from recycled polyester (right). This skirt also has a stretchy waistband, which adds comfort and durability. Plus, the pattern is perfect for a trip to the beach! The Liquid Maxi Skirt retails for $50 and other skirts from Afends range from $40 to $120.

Patterned Dresses:

Three women wearing patterned dresses
Patterned Dresses from SHEIN (left) and Afends (center and right)

SHEIN always has patterned and colorful clothes, and patterned dresses are definitely a must for summer. Luckily, Afends also has many patterned dresses for summer, including their Tribal Mini Dress (middle) and their Alohaz Mini Dress (right). Afends’ dresses are made from materials such as recycled knits and organic cotton, which means they use less water and emit less carbon dioxide. These slinky and eye-catching dresses are perfect for vacation. The Tribal dress retails at $80 full price but is currently on sale for $40, and the Alohaz dress retails for $75, but is currently on sale for $45.

Sweat Shorts:

2 pairs of shorts on the left and a woman wearing shorts on the right
Sweat Shorts from SHEIN (left) and Pact (right)

Sweat shorts are the most comfortable pants you could have for the summer. SHEIN’s sweat shorts (left) are currently a “hot” item on their website, but Pact’s The Studio Curved Hem Short are also a great pair of shorts that you can wear for anything from working out to lounging around and watching Netflix. They’re made from organic cotton, and they come in 4 neutral colors that could go with any outfit. They’re retailed at $58 but are on sale for $34.


a bikini picture on the left and a woman wearing a green bikini on the right
Green Bikinis by SHEIN (left) and Summersalt (right)

A swimsuit is something that you want to be good quality. The last thing you want is a pair of bikini bottoms with holes in them or ties that unravel easily. SHEIN sells hundreds of swimsuits, but Summersalt sells hundreds of sustainable swimsuits, like the Triangle Bikini Top and Low Rise Bikini Bottom (right). Summersalt swimsuits are made from recycled materials that have been pulled out of the ocean and provide for a secure fit. If this bikini isn’t your style, they have many more to choose from, from one-pieces to tankinis. The Triangle Bikini Top comes in 4 colors and 10 patterns and retails for $50. The Low Rise Bikini Bottom comes in 4 colors and 5 patterns and retails for $45.

Tank Tops:

three tank tops
Tank Tops by SHEIN (left) and ARQ (center and right)

Tank tops are a need for summer, and SHEIN sells many (left). However, it’s not necessary to buy loads of new tanks every year. ARQ, on the other hand, sells higher quality tank tops, the Crop Top (middle), and the Sal Tank (right). The tanks are made mostly of organic cotton, and they are made to last for many summers. The Sal Tank is even made without tags so that it can be “backwards” for a different neckline. The Crop Tank comes in 8 colors and 6 patterns and is sold for $36. The Sal Tank comes in 4 colors and is sold for $38.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of sustainable alternatives to the big-name brands that we’re used to. SHEIN and other fast fashion brands are not only harmful to the environment, but to their employees. There’s a reason that their clothes are easily accessible and crazy cheap. This summer, look for new sustainable brands with pieces that you can mix and match and that you’ll want to wear for more summers to come!



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