Crochet in Fast Fashion

Spending the extra money on crocheted pieces might be worth it

With celebrities like Harry Styles, Kim Kardashian, and Rihanna sporting crocheted clothing, it comes as no surprise that the trend has taken over. With the rise of fast fashion sites like Shein and Romwe, it becomes easier for consumers to keep up with the trends. Many chose to buy crocheted pieces off of these fast fashion sites.
The problem is not that these companies are selling crochet. It’s the fact that there is no machine that can be used to make crochet. All crochet must be handmade due to the complexity of the stitches and the dexterity needed to create each stitch. Since this crochet must be handmade, there are workers that are being exploited in the name of fast fashion.
Fast fashion pieces typically cost $3-15 and take days to make, yet workers are only being paid an average of 18 cents per piece. In comparison, ethically made crochet products on Etsy can sell for upwards of $100.
Not only does fast fashion exploit workers, it is common for companies to steal designs from smaller brands or independent creators. According to the Nigerian brand Elexiay, Shein stole a crochet design from one of their sweaters in July of 2021. The Shein sweater cost only $17 before being removed from its website, while the handmade and ethically made Elexiay sweater cost $330. Why would consumers buy a $330 sweater when they could buy the same one for $17, even if it is made with unethical labor practices?
Fortunately, knit machines are a great alternative to crochet, and most people cannot tell the difference between the two techniques. Knitting machines were developed with the idea that they would be used to mass-produce garments, but with this already existing machine that looks similar to crochet, there may be no need for a crochet machine.
There are alternative types of knitting machines, one called a weft or warp knitting machine is able to create the most similar look to crochet. Although this machine can make stitches that look extremely similar to crochet, they can never recreate genuine crochet. To someone with an untrained eye, weft and warp knitting machines are close enough to actual crochet to substitute for it.
When buying crochet pieces, it is best to buy from sites like Etsy that allow for small business owners to share their work. The pieces will be more expensive than sites like Shein, but are less likely to use labor from exploited workers, unethical practices, or steal designs from other creators. When searching for crocheted pieces, warped knitting can look extremely similar if you are on a budget, but the best way to buy crochet is to do so from a reputable and ethical seller.