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    Moroccans Who Resist Online Shopping with AliExpress, Shein, Fast Fashion

    Looking and feeling good is not always about taking the easiest and cheapest route for some online shoppers.

    24 Jan 2022

    Agadir - Cheap, good-looking, and easily acquired online are the ideal clothing for many Moroccan and other consumers. Having too many clothes is not a problem for numerous people. Meanwhile, the concept of “Fast fashion,” the overproduction of clothes to meet these demands, is a huge problem for the environment and many garment workers' lives.

    While recent lockdowns have encouraged consumers to increasingly shop online, some individuals are steadfast to avoid this trend. Moroccan consumers concerned with environmental and ethical issues appear to refuse to cave in to the immense marketing pressure of companies like Shein, Ali Express, and other online shopping sources.

    Rime Chafik shops online, but with consciousness and criteria in mind. Chafik is so particular about what products she uses on her skin that she founded Organic Hand in Casablanca, where she makes organic skin and beauty products.

    As for her other shopping habits, she told Morocco World News that she is mindful of her consumption and says “I am doing my best to consume only local and from small businesses.”

    A Moroccan influencer who preferred to speak anonymously pointed out that Moroccan shoppers typically find shops of all sizes in Morocco are loaded with cheap products from China made by unascertained means. Regarding economic self-sacrifices, she asked, “Why should we pay more locally when we can buy the same and better quality items online for less?”

    This social media influencer plans to launch her own made in Morocco clothing line instead of building her brand on advertising for other companies.

    For consumers like Chafik, alternative shopping habits are crucial. Instead of buying readily available plastic furnishings, she explains that “for home decor, I use only natural materials.”

    The rafia baskets and woolen poufs much beloved in Morocco by tourists for their eco-hippy style are simply not for everyone’s taste. Still, there are options to buying home furnishings that satisfy other aesthetics.

    Using used

    While shopping second-hand is distasteful to some, it is a natural purchasing option for many people, Moroccan or not. Imane Ouhaddi from Agadir told MWN that though it was not an economic necessity, her maternal grandfather “was obsessed with buying everything secondhand. Home furnishings, clothes, even electronics - everything.”

    “Whenever we need something, the first thing we think of is can we find this second hand. It was always the first option,” says Ouhaddi. This family habit grew into a love for vintage things, which ultimately became a business opportunity for Imane, the founder of Thrift with Love.

    Though she has managed to mostly not buy any new clothing for two years, Ouhaddi understands that not all consumers are comfortable wearing pre-owned clothes. She explains that some are “not proud to say ‘this is vintage or second hand.’”

    If the hippy style or thrill of thrifting unique finds are not attractive shopping options, there are alternatives to avoiding the immense carbon footprint produced by fast fashion and murkily-made cheap goods.

    Buying custom designs and handmade products can lead to sustainable shopping habits and are popular in Morocco. Often this is the only way to acquire quality furnishings, garments, and accessories that will last at least one lifetime.

    The best practice is less consumption, though mega brands intentionally make this difficult for consumers.

    The problem, a solution

    AliExpress and Shein both have numerous reports of their unethical production practices. Both also made MesPressInfo’s list of “The 7 best Chinese shopping sites that ship to the Arab world - 2022.”

    AliExpress ranks in first place and Shein in seventh, but Shein’s business model is what makes it possibly harder to resist.

    Shein originally sold wedding dresses and women’s clothes, but founder Chris Xu did not have a passion for fashion. According to Vox, Xu “specialized in search engine optimization (SEO) marketing.”

    The “Shein Generation” has never known a world without the internet and Xu knows exactly how to tap into these consumers’ emotions.

    The FOMO (fear of missing out) value for Shein reached $30 million in 2021. And it did so without impunityfor workers who greatly suffer at one end of the consumption line. Reuters reported that Shein refuses to disclose its supply chain details as required by UK law under the country’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

    Xu taps into the best and most plentiful marketing opportunities possible, from regional social media influencers to celebrities, with a current following of 250 million social media users. Some young digital influencers, including those of Moroccan heritage, have built their brands almost entirely on sharing Shein hauls and hashtags.

    On the flipside, the environment has been identified as Gen Z’s biggest concern. They also tend to value authenticity and trust, which is another reason young people enjoy the cultural intimacy of media made by their peers.

    For consumers with these values, the overwhelming popularity of Shein and other fast-fashion retailers makes it difficult to uphold all of these values and simultaneously feel great about how you look.

    Economic disparities only add to the pressure to buy for less online. For Moroccan consumers who can afford to go elsewhere or have creatively found shopping hacks, they can have it all. Or they can choose to have less.


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