Shein Trouble

Date Published:
October 24, 2022
Summer Stirling

Our blog posts usually focus on business tips and marketing, but this news is too big and much too important to ignore.

The Chinese fast-fashion giant Shien is under fire after the UK Broadcaster Channel 4 went undercover and discovered numerous offences. 

Surely nobody is surprised that the workers making $8 dresses aren’t getting paid a fair wage, but this investigation has revealed much worse than that. 

The people working in Shein factories are paid a mere $0.04 per garment and are expected to produce an average of 500 garments a day. They are often denied their first month’s pay, penalized up to two-thirds of a day’s salary for any mistakes made on clothing and exposed to countless toxic chemicals without proper PPE.

Workers in both facilities investigated were working up to 18-hour days and given a whole ONE day off per month. Women, forced to work these inhumane hours were seen washing their hair on their lunch breaks if given breaks at all.

In response to the latest investigation, Shein told Business Insider "Any non-compliance with this code is dealt with swiftly, and we will terminate partnerships that do not meet our standards," the company said. "We have requested specific information from Channel 4 so that we can investigate."

But this isn’t the first time Shein has been called out for violating China’s labour laws

Nor is it the first time their clean-up crew has tried to sweep their horrendous practices under the rug. 

In 2020 Shein was accused of selling offensive items, from Islamic prayer rugs as decorative mats to a necklace in the shape of a swastika. They’ve also been accused of stealing designs from small independent creators and printing out low-quality copies for a fraction of the price.

The company has also made terrible greenwashing efforts to hide the severe impact its fast fashion is causing across the globe.

Shein updates its website with, on average, 6,000 new styles every single day—an unimaginable amount of product, even for fast fashion. This mass production hurts more than their employees. The poor quality of the items sold means a quick hop from consumer to waste bin. 

After being called out for poor environmental practices, Shein responded by posting vague environmental initiatives on their website. They then added a few products made of recycled materials into their collection and set up some “pop-up and college campus events” where people can return the flimsy clothes for Shein gift cards (AKA, more consumption of cheap goods). 

What do they do with these returned goods? Donate them of course! 

Problem is, thrift stores don’t want their crap either. While Shein tries to make themselves look better, they burden thrift shops with literal tonnes of clothes that are hardly worth reselling… and in the end, most of the garments end up in the bin anyway.

“If you donate trash to a thrift store, it doesn’t just disappear,” Adam Minter, the author of “Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale,” said in an interview. He added that smaller stores in particular could easily become overwhelmed by incoming garments, making it “much harder to do the business of running a thrift store.”

So while Shien attempts to save face and the world deals with their mess, what lesson can we take from this catastrophe? 

Give a shit.

Give a shit about the quality of your product.

Give a shit about the people making your product.

Give a shit about the consumer buying your product.

Don’t just do good business, do good with your business.