In July 2020, a scandal sparked when Instagram and Twitter users — notably Marissa Casey Grossman — shared posts that displayed what Shein called a “swastika pendant necklace” being sold on the website (via Refinery29). There was, of course, almost immediate backlash on social media and, according to CBS News, users accused Shein of anti-semitism and demanded people stop supporting their brand. Shein eventually removed the necklace from its website and apologized on social media, claiming on Instagram that the pendant represented a Buddhist symbol for “spirituality and good fortune.”

In October 2021, CBC Marketplace conducted an investigation to identify potentially toxic chemicals in products from fast-fashion brands like Shein, Zaful, and AliExpress. Out of 38 samples of children’s, adults’, and maternity-wear clothing and accessories, CBC Marketplace found that one in every five items had “concerning” levels of chemicals like lead, PFAS, and/or phthalates. The low prices of Shein’s items — along with tags reading messages like “help” that have gone viral on social media (but have since been debunked) — have prompted questions and concerns about the work conditions in Shein’s factories. H&M is one of the most popular fast fashion brands worldwide, but the company doesn’t have the best reputation with respect to its treatment of workers and the environment.

  1. The low prices of Shein’s items — along with tags reading messages like “help” that have gone viral on social media (but have since been debunked) — have prompted questions and concerns about the work conditions in Shein’s factories.
  2. But some critics say these efforts pale in comparison to the company’s output of an estimated 314,877 new styles per year, according to a Business of Fashion article, which used data from retail analytics firm Edited.
  3. Despite the bad press, UBS analysts suggest that Shein could continue to take major market share from US apparel companies.
  4. “This is more unique to Shein, as live streaming is used less by Western brands but has huge potential to drive sales, as evidenced in China,” says Ms Salter.

Before you consider adding another fitted mini skirt or crop top to your Shein cart, you should know a few things. Its customer base, retail analyst Emily Salter says, are “quite contradictory shoppers” overall, with Gen Z more willing to buy second-hand and rent clothing, but also making up the core of fast fashion brands like Shein that have come under intense scrutiny. In an effort to better their reputation in terms of environmental, social, and governance (ESG)issues, Shein hired a group of new executives who aim to change how the general public views the fashion retailer, Bloomberg reported in June 2022. The most notable hire is Adam Whinston, the brand’s new global head of ESG, who is largely in charge of positively changing Shein’s image and introducing a more sustainable model to the company. On more than a few occasions, Shein has been accused of ripping off designs from both well-known names in fashion and lesser-known, independent stores and individuals.

Critics question Shein’s manufacturing and supply chain practices

Some claim that Shein has allegedly copied their designs and sold similar items at a lower cost. It has also been accused of copyright infringement and faces lawsuits from the likes of the maker of Dr Martens boots, although the e-retailer has previously denied any wrongdoing. While she admits she has seen comments online questioning the environmental impact of ultra-fast fashion and how much Shein’s workers are paid, she would buy from the company again in future. Targeting trend (and cost) conscious shoppers on social media, the online-only giant adds a staggering 6,000 new items to its range daily.

Reports have uncovered both the human rights issues of individuals working for many fast fashion companies, as well as the environmental impacts they make — the fashion industry is responsible for around 10 percent of total carbon emissions produced globally. In a study, it analysed 30 of the biggest fast fashion retailers in the UK and scored their websites according to how many of these prompts customers saw before making a purchase. The Times reported that Shein is considering buying Topshop, another fast-fashion retailer based in the US.

Intellectual property infringement

Similarly, Reuters reported that the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 requires companies who do business in the United Kingdom and bring in more than 36 million pounds of items a year to state the actions they are taking to work against forced labor. Reuters found that, in the past, Shein falsely claimed that the conditions in their factories were certified by international labor standards. As of this writing, the fashion brand’s website simply states that it “[supports] the ten principles [of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals] focused on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.” With Shein’s prices being so low, it’s probably not surprising that the quality of its products is generally not the best. Although the influencers who work with the brand consistently rave about and flaunt their Shein clothes on social media applications like TikTok and Instagram, shoppers who aren’t affiliated with the company sometimes share different opinions.

Huge choice – 600,000 products for sale

However, the company releases little information regarding its business practices, scoring between zero and 10 per cent on the transparency scale regarding how well it treats employees. Additionally, Shein has faced bad press in the past for selling culturally insensitive items like swastika necklaces. Consumers are also criticizing Shein for its damaging impact on the environment and for clothing that is harmful to consumers. There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data.

Yet, Shein shoppers say they’re more environmentally conscious than the average consumer.

In addition, the company is one of several in the fast fashion industry to reject important regulations protecting employee welfare. Notably, they opposed new sanctions proposed by the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. The fast fashion giant employs 200 in-house designers, out of more than 7,000 employees. In September 2021, Shein updated its website to include a “Supply Chain Transparency Statement” and a code of conduct that its suppliers and manufacturers must agree to. Apart from the Public Eye report, there is little to no information that confirms whether or not Shein is enforcing policies that protect workers on its production sites.

The jacket tested as having 20 times the amount of lead that is safe for children to be exposed to, and the purse, five. Along with this, a children’s tutu dress from Shein was tested as having an elevated (but not necessarily unsafe) amount of phthalates. After the company publicly denied reports of a rumored IPO, it confidentially filed to go public on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported. Insiders told Bloomberg that Shein is targeting a $80 billion to $90 billion valuation.

According to a 2021 report by Reuters, Australia requires companies that make over $100 million AUD annually to submit a “modern slavery statement” to the Australian Border Force (ABF) every year. They claimed that Shein had not submitted this required statement by the time of publishing. While how to issue corporate bonds the fashion industry — most specifically, the fast-fashion industry — isn’t the sole cause of the world’s environmental issues, it is a major factor. If its growth continues as it’s projected to, the Ellen MacArther Foundation predicts that its environmental impacts will be drastic.

Shein has more followers on TikTok than any other apparel retail brand and is the most Google-searched apparel retailer in the US, according to UBS data. Shoppers dump piles of Shein-branded packages from large cardboard boxes onto the floors of their bedrooms, where you’ll also probably see garlands of fake ivy and string lights hanging from the walls. One woman filmed a box truck delivering a giant box to her driveway after she said she bought $2,000 worth of Shein products. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2019, closing more than 100 stores and laying off hundreds of employees in Canada and beyond. Retail experts suggest that the company needs to become more sustainably-minded to remain relevant with young, environmentally conscious consumers. Scientists found that Shein’s clothing designed for toddlers contained nearly 20 times the Health Canada-recommended amount of lead.

She bought a new pair of shoes — Shein’s Minamilist Platform Chunky Pumps — for the occasion, but they didn’t end up lasting long. Carrasco told Insider that her heel melted and “deflated,” as is shown in her viral video of the experience. “I’m shocked when [people] say they bought shoes from Shein like bby with that quality y’all are brave lol,” one person tweeted. Shein is the second most-downloaded shopping app in the US, according to UBS Evidence Lab data.

Shein has issued apologies for these offenses and made a “vow to do a much better job”. Additionally, the company revealed it “formed a product review committee with staff from different cultures and religions” to avoid repeating past mistakes; however, they’ve continued to face accusations of insensitivity and appropriation. Of these products, researchers at the University of Toronto found that two Shein items — a jacket made for toddlers as well as a red purse — contained higher amounts of lead than is healthy.

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