Shein is the focus of a stunning new Channel 4 documentary that reveals the untold truths behind the most well-known fast-fashion clothes company in the world. Shein has grabbed the attention of many adults and teens looking for cheap, trendy clothing.
The Chinese online apparel company, which changed its name from the wedding dress wholesaler Sheinside in 2015, is the current face of fast fashion. Want a hot dress for a night out, a warm sweater for winter, or a stylish pair of shoes? With its cheap-as-chips merchandise and seemingly unlimited supply of items posted to its website every day, Shein will certainly have you covered. In fact, the #SheinHaul hashtag has generated millions of searches on TikTok.
Following a Marketplace investigation last year, the company has also come under fire for dangerous substances detected in apparel, including lead, PFAS, and phthalates. They have also drawn criticism for handling client data improperly and for stealing designs from independent designers without acknowledgment or permission.
Shein may be a convenient and superficial sanctuary for all things trendy, but the company’s ethical and environmental practices, as well as its very dubious personnel standards, have long raised concerns. The documentary, which is hosted by journalist Iman Amrani, sends an undercover worker into two supplier factories in Guangzhou, U.K., to reveal the human cost of the retailer’s business strategy. What they discover there is startling.
Workers are grossly underpaid; it was found that employees at one factory made 500 articles of apparel per day for a base income of 4,000 yuan (about £492) per month. The penalty for an error on a piece of clothing was two-thirds of the daily income. Employees in China are only permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per week. The stunning realization was that shifts at both plants lasted 18 hours, beginning at 8 am and ending in the wee hours of the morning. Additionally, it was discovered that employees only received one day off every month.
A representative for Shein spoke to GLAMOUR: “We are extremely concerned by the claims presented by Channel 4, which would violate the Code of Conduct agreed to by every SHEIN supplier. Any non-compliance with this code is dealt with swiftly, and we will terminate partnerships that do not meet our standards. SHEIN’s Responsible Sourcing standards hold our manufacturing suppliers to a code of conduct based on International Labor Organization conventions and local laws and regulations governing labour practices and working conditions. We work with leading independent agencies like TUV, SGS, OpenView and Intertek to conduct unannounced audits at supplier facilities. We have requested specific information from Channel 4 so that we can investigate.”
On the same day that Channel 4’s documentary was shown, the corporation simultaneously announced the opening of a resale scheme. The Shein Exchange’s eco-friendly business concept promotes the buying and selling of pre-owned goods.
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