Shein is the rising online fashion company from China which introduced ultra-fast fashion to the world. 2021 it became the largest fast-fashion retailer in the U.S. through the digital marketing strategy, which includes fashion and beauty influencer on Instagram and TikTok. The company now has even more app downloads in the U.S. than Amazon. To rise to such heights, the company takes the worst from the fashion industry like polluting the world through cheap polyester clothing, stealing designs from others and ignoring labor laws. Truly, a company that transforms our world into a huge garbage dump and kills us with their “Ultra Fast Trashion”.
Destroying the world
For Shein to produce their polyester clothing, they need tons of liters of freshwater which after processing of their synthetic fibers is returned into the ecosystem or the use of gray energy to power those processes. They need chemical pesticides and fertilizers for cultivation and as soon as those clothes are worn, they will continuously release a huge amount of microplastic to the environment. And all that because it is cheap.
The fashion industry has a general problem when it comes to design copyrights. Like other fashion companies, Shein steals the work of small designers. The reason is ultra-fast fashion, which needs thousands of new designs every day. In some cases, up to 40 designs are stolen from the same designers who present images of their designs on Social Media to expand reach and as if this was not enough already, they also steal the photos for their online shop. To top it off, they made a competition where the winner with the best design receives prize money and has a chance to present their own collection on the website. According to Shein, they want to give the recognition those designers deserve.
Exploitation of the employees and risking their lives
More than 17 companies that produce clothing and jewelry for Shein are located in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, which has a population of several million people. Most of their workers several years of experience in the textile sector and originally came from smaller Chinese provinces. The production facilities are covered with garment bags, tables filled with sewing machines and the packaged clothes. The clothe bags often block the way to the outside, most windows are barred and at the same time there are no other emergency exits, which not only violates their specially designed code of conduct but also the Chinese fire protection regulations.
On average, the employees in the production facilities work around 75 hours per month and only have one day off. These working conditions are illegal. According to Chinese labor law, a working week may not exceed 40 hours, overtime work may not exceed 36 hours per month and every worker has one day off per week. These workers are paid per piece they made, which means their salaries are higher, the more they produce. Shein also violates employment contract law, according to which every worker should receive a signed employment contract. However, most workers work without a legal employment contract.
We see once more, how far the fashion industry would go, to make profit. Sadly, Shein is not the only fashion company, which is doing questionable things, since this a structural problem of the industry. Shein just takes all the bad things on a new level.
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