The Rise Of Temu: How Fast Fashion Is Impacting E-Commerce Startups

Fast fashion online stores such as Shein and Temu are trending, and many rely on these sites to buy most of their clothes and other items. The more these fast commerce stores become “everything” stores, the more they’re making life difficult for small businesses and startups.

The recently opened case between these very two companies reveals the intense competition and practices that smaller businesses are facing. Shein sued Temu for intellectual-property infringement, and Temu responded with an antitrust lawsuit, claiming Shein forces suppliers into exclusive deals to strengthen competition.

So, not only are they putting startups at a disadvantage, they’re competing with each other on a quest to become the most popular choice for customers across demographics.


Are Consumers Overindulging in Fast Fashion?

So, different studies have been conducted as to how exactly fast fashion may impact our planet. Are consumers overindulging in these products? Well, the University of Manchester found that the demand for fast fashion is driven by the constant cycle of new trends.

Emily Richardson-Moore notes, “Fast fashion items are typically worn less than five times, contributing to a staggering amount of waste.” This throwaway culture leads to 85% of textiles ending up in landfills each year, where they decompose slowly and emit harmful gases like methane.

Environmental Pollution From Production

The production process of fast fashion really pollutes the environment. Dyeing and finishing fabrics release toxic chemicals into water systems, harming marine life and contaminating water sources. A 2018 report by Quantis International found that the dyeing, yarn preparation, and fiber production stages are the most polluting.

Kamya Choudhary from the London School of Economics brought up the fact that the fashion industry actually produces more greenhouse gases annually than both the shipping and aviation industries combined.

What Do Experts Think About Fast Fashion For Startups?

With the environmental impacts in mind, lets shift the focus back to how exactly startups are affected by the rise of these big companies. A few expers shared their thoughts with us, and this is what they had to say:

Ria Chakrabarti, Founder, Veristyle



“For a startup like ours, whose values are embedded in helping customers find their best personal style and invest in pieces which will last them forever, fast fashion is highly challenging. Customers are incentivised to use fast-fashion platforms, especially Temu, without considerations as most people fill their baskets tempted by how cheap everything is.

“What lacks is any form of reflection whether something will fit them properly, exacerbated by the fact that returns are often easy and free of charge. At Veristyle, we want to help customers shop thoughtfully and with a precise aim, so that they can build a wardrobe tailor-made for their physical features and personality. Conscious consumption, rather than bulk-buying fast fashion, is at the core of our business.

“This provides startups like ours with a lot of opportunity. We can anticipate the issues that arise with fast-fashion and stay in tune with our target end-customers to improve our product so we can be at the right place at the right time to solve these issues.

“We can position ourselves at Veristyle as a sustainable marketplace alternative as well as a B2B service these fast-fashion companies can use to bring the right inventory in front of the right customers to ultimately reduce returns and promote the conscious consumption sustainability pillar.”

Leo Gripari, CEO, That Gorilla Brand



“The explosion of fast commerce digital marketplaces – which give consumers hundreds of thousands of options at low prices – makes it difficult for fashion start-ups to cut through the noise of these industry giants.

“However, with recent research finding consumers are more engaged with brands’ social impact than ever, and governments penalising ultra-fast fashion to promote more conscious consumerism, the future is bright and only further fuels our mission to create premium apparel which makes a positive impact in the communities we support in rural Uganda.”

James Poletti, Strategy Partner, 33Seconds


“Our Window on Net Zero Culture’ report from Earthtopia – a TikTok eco community created by specialist communications agency 33Seconds – explores the views of 2,000 Gen Y and Z planet-conscious consumers across the UK and US.

“Interestingly, the report found that although awareness and enthusiasm is high for second hand marketplaces such as Depop and Vinted, many Gen Z and Millennial respondents expressed concern, with 77% agreeing that these sites were increasingly featuring more ‘fast fashion’ items at marked up prices than vintage pieces. Our report also found that:

“Gen Z are slightly ahead of the curve, with 77% stating that they regularly buy second hand & vintage clothes vs 72% of Millennials.

“The top reasons for buying second hand were that it’s a cheaper and more sustainable way to shop.

“Further to this, only 34% of Gen Z shoppers said that they think of fast fashion brands in a positive light, vs 47% of Millenials.

“However, millennials were more likely to donate & recycle old clothes, with 47% vs 39% of Gen Z saying they had taken this type of climate conscious action in the past.”