What is Temu? Fast-fashion brand becomes new go-to for TikTok hauls

Step aside, Shein. Temu is a Chinese-owned digital marketplace that has overtaken Shein, Walmart and Amazon as the No. 1 free shopping app on both the App Store and Google Play.

The online megastore sells a multitude of products that rivals Amazon in terms of inventory and price. Temu’s inventory includes everything from home appliances to clothing, outdoor furniture, baby clothes and more.

What’s drawing shoppers, according to ZDNET, is the relatively low price point of the products. The tech-focused publication estimates that the bulk of the items on Temu cost less than $30.

Some shoppers are celebrating their savings on the app — but others are warning of the dangers of fast fashion and urging shoppers to be aware of what budget apps like Temu and Shein are arguably delivering.

What does Temu sell?

According to its app page, Temu sells everything from fashion, clothing and shoes to home decor and handmade crafts. Time reported that Temu is like the U.S. version of the Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo.

Time also noted that shoppers have seen steep discounts, such as Lenovo earbuds for around $9, computer keyboards going for $15 and a pack of socks for less than $2.

Many TikTok users seem to be loving the prices. The official TikTok page for Temu (@shoptemu) shares videos of shoppers showing off their goods, like a Stanley tumbler knock-off for under $10, room decor and complete outfits.

Shopping hauls have already been called out as being environmentally unfriendly and contributing to waste. Yet TikTokers are sharing their Temu hauls all over their platforms and encouraging followers to join in.

“Honestly, I’m impressed,” admitted one influencer, Kelly Rose Sarno (@kellyrosesarno).

“You’re telling me you got ALLTHAT for $20?????? Also the slippers were the best purchase,” @_spain_nos commented.

Taking another look at Temu

While some TikTokers are celebrating their Temu hauls, others are pointing out the potential problems with the arrival of yet another fast-fashion app.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, fast fashion is a significant contributor to climate change, producing as much as 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Some of the other concerns about the industry include:

  • Waste from production

  • Pollution from manufacturing and expansion

  • Natural habitat loss

  • Fossil fuel consumption

  • Disposal challenges due to fibers being coated with non-biodegradable chemicals

  • Worker exploitation and unsafe working environments

  • Shedding from microplastics from cheap ware

  • Landfills filling up as fashion changes

Shein has been a focus of controversy as a major fast-fashion retailer, and other critics have complained about its problematic plus-size marketing. Some TikTokers are warning that the Temu app is no different.

“I’m being dead serious. Are we all just pretending that Temu isn’t Shein? Because I feel like y’all was going hard behind Shein being terrible. But then ya’ll picked up Temu, like, ‘Omigod, look at all these mysteriously low prices!’ Girl. This is Shein, Part 2,” said @anaykahee.

“I was waiting for someone to say this! Whenever people tell me about Temu, I’m like: ‘That’s Shein’s kid,’” added @maalex23.

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