Fast-fashion giant Shein is back in the spotlight, after a new investigation found factory workers were being paid as little as 4 cents per dress while working 18-hour shifts.
A new UK Channel 4 documentary, “Untold: Inside the Shein Machine,” takes viewers behind the scenes at some of the Chinese factories that produce electronic clothing.
Shocking though, the hidden camera results will come as no surprise to those familiar with the company’s human rights and environmental record.
What is the size of the Shein website?
it is in (It’s called SheInside, Don’t Shine, as it started as SheInside) launched in 2008, originally as a retailer of wedding dresses. The Chinese company has since expanded rapidly, becoming the largest online-only retailer in the world last year.
In July 2021, it became the most downloaded app with over 17.5 million downloads via Google Play Store and Apple.
that it The most popular brand on TikTok, far surpassing Netflix, which came in second place. Shein has been branded more than three times as much as McDonald’s or Starbucks – it has tapped into the Gen-Z market better than any other brand.
Shein now accounts for nearly a third (28 percent) of fast fashion market In the United States alone, the company as well It is rumored that it is heading for an IPO Nicknamed the listing of the company in the stock market.
But as social media site Shein has stormed, with influencers around the world sharing their #SHEINHAUL videos, activists and experts are in despair.
The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, and fast fashion brands – such as Shein – are an essential part of this pollution.
What’s wrong with Shein?
When you look at some of the numbers around the brand, it’s pretty amazing. According to CEO Molly Miao, the company releases between 700 and 1,000 new items per day.
Yes, you read that correctly: day.
Shein says that each product is only produced in small numbers (between 50-100 pieces), thus reducing the number of raw materials that are wasted. When a product is popular, it is mass-produced on a large scale.
But even a product that is produced on a small scale still contributes to carbon emissions and waste. Based on the above numbers, and using the more conservative numbers, at least 35,000 items are still being produced per day – and at worst 100,000 items.
Sustainability is ultimately about buying and consuming less. Shein’s business model is set up to fuel demand, ensuring that there’s always something new that a consumer will want to buy.
When Expert check On the company’s website, they find that 70 percent of its products are in stock less than three months old. At other fast-fashion retailers, such as Zara and H&M, that number is between 40-53 percent.
In a world where the average consumer throws away 60% of new clothes In the same year it was purchased, Shein’s approach to sales is an obvious part of this pattern.
The environmental impact of fast fashion
The fashion industry is responsible for more than 10 percent of carbon emissions and consumes nearly 100 million tons of oil each year. A major part of these numbers is virgin polyester (also known as all-new polyester), with production levels for this fabric more than double what they were in 2000.
One-year virgin polyester making process begins The same amount of carbon dioxide 180 coal-fired power plants – that’s about 700 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Reports estimate that this could double again by 2030.
Carbon emissions are at the heart of global warming, which means that every ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere makes our planet increasingly uninhabitable.
The effects of our warming climate have been very visible in recent months, from being devastating Forest fires and heat waves fatal floods and hurricanes. Last Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change On climate change, he stated that global warming should be kept at 1.5°C to avoid a “climate catastrophe”.
Fast fashion brands like Shein are bad for people and the planet
In addition to contributing to the climate crisis, fast fashion also depends on the exploitation of people within the supply chain. In order to mass-produce garments and sell them at a very discounted price, costs must be reduced.
“The apparel industry, and not just the fast fashion industry, is built on poverty wages and hard-working conditions,” explain Spokesperson for the Clean Clothes Campaign.
“These conditions of business are not merely defects of individual factories, but are driven by an industrial practice of pressing for the lowest price and the shortest periods of time in an eternal race to the bottom.”
Although Shein has a corporate social responsibility page that says the company has “always practiced[s] Fair work” and “Never get involved[s] in child or forced labor,” Reuters reported last year that Shein had failed to provide sufficient transparency over its supply chain.
Shein has been specifically called out several times by independent designers, who have accused the fast-fashion giant of plagiarizing their work.
In August last year, Bailey Prado, a crochet designer in Los Angeles and London, accused Shane of stealing 45 of her designs.
Prado said on Instagram: “I’ve convinced myself it’s no big deal, but now my designs, which have been my life for the past three years, are now being sold to millions of Shein consumers who will never know about me.
“Fast fashion companies seem to have no consequences.”
Why do people love Shein so much?
Although many designers like Prado highlight the theft of intellectual property from Shein – along with a large number of articles and videos denouncing Poor quality of the brand The company is going from strength to strength.
At the heart of their marketing strategy are #SHEINHAUL videos, where influencers and social media users share snapshots of a range of items they’ve bought or gifted to Shein.
Shein is also a rare brand (not just fast fashion, it’s all fashion) in catering to the needs of plus-size consumers. They have several products that go up to 5XL (UK 26 / US 22 / EU 54), far exceeding what high street products like H&M, Zara and New Look have to offer.
This has certainly helped increase the brand’s popularity, as it offers options that are not often provided to plus-size shoppers, who often end up paying so-called “fat tax‘ On clothes.
But some have pointed out how contradictory Gen-Z’s love for Shein is.
Gen-Z (people born between the mid-to-late 1990s and 2012) are known for their sustainable preferences and political activism. Similar to millennials, the generation is more advanced than previous age groups, as well as being digital citizens, better educated, and more concerned with climate change.
However, young people make up a large part of Shein’s target demographic – as evidenced by the decision to focus marketing efforts on TikTok.
Although the social media app has become a space for social activity and a lot sustainable designers And brands to make a name, now dominated by SHEIN content too.
“The concern about what Shein does — especially with its target audience of Gen-Zers — is that it makes them think it’s okay to pay for nothing for an item of clothing, when the only way to get to that price is to take advantage of people along the supply chain, From makers to designers,” said Rebecca Morter, founder of sustainable e-commerce site Lone Design Club, Bright.
With a reality show in production and countless celebrity partnerships, Shein’s rise to the top seems unstoppable. This ultimately leaves things in the hands of consumers.
It’s our choice: a livable planet where workers are paid a fair wage – or cheaper clothes made with stolen designs.