Shein is one of the top brands that follow the model of Fast Fashion.
Before jumping into Shein’s ethics, let’s try to understand what Fast Fashion means.
In simple words, Fast Fashion refers to the quick transition of clothing trends from the catwalk and social media to the clothing stores.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, the meaning of Fast Fashion is;
“Clothes that are made and sold cheaply, so that people can buy new clothes often.”
Fast Fashion has three main elements; cheap, new, and trendy clothes.
Fast Fashion is known to cause much harm to the worker’s ethics, environment, and society in general.
Many Fast Fashion brands are working in sweatshops where labourers are forced to work for several hours a day in inhumane conditions.
85% of the garment workers are underpaid. They are not even given the minimum wages.
Fast Fashion has also caused harm to the environment. According to UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program), the Fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water.
About 8-10% of the global carbon emission is caused by the fashion industry.
Coming back to Shein, Shein is a Chinese Fast Fashion brand. Shein became very popular in the past few years. Shein is popular for its affordable products.
Shein is not considered ethical and has been banned in some countries.
However, is Shein worse than other fast fashion brands? Does Shein use child labor? Also how ethically bad Shein is?
We have tried to answer all of the queries you might have about the ethics of Shein. Keep on reading to find out!
Shein is an online Chinese fashion retailer. Shein was founded in 2008. Shein initially started as a dropshipping brand.
In 2010, Shein was introduced in several countries in Europe. In 2014, Shein became a fashion retailer and started producing its clothing items.
Shein took advantage of TikTok marketing in the early stages and got popular among the public. Shein also took advantage of influencer marketing.
Shein is also popular among the general public as its products are extremely inexpensive.
Shein is known to produce their items within three days after a trend is started.
Shein started by selling womenswear. However, now they have thousands of options for men, women, and kids.
Shein mostly sells clothing, accessories, shoes, electronics, household items, and stationery items.
Is Shein Worse Than Other Fast Fashion?
Yes, Shein is worse than many other fast fashion brands.
Shein has been involved in various controversies. Shein has been accused of copying the designs of several companies such as Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Dr. Martens, etc.
There are many artists and small businesses who have accused Shein of stealing their designs. Some businesses such as Levi’s sued Shein for using their designs.
Shein faced a data breach in 2018. Due to privacy concerns, the Indian government banned Shein in 2020.
Shein does not provide much information about labor ethics. However, they have been accused of using child labor. Shein is not usually open about its policies.
Many Fast Fashion brands make their clothing items. Shein has been included in many controversies. Hence Shein is considered worse than many other Fast Fashion brands.
Does Shein Use Child Labour?
It is unclear whether Shein uses child labor or not.
On their website, Shein mentions that;
“We never EVER engage in child labor or forced labor. If any of our partners violate labor laws or fail to meet our standards, we terminate and report them immediately.”
Shein does not openly talk about its labour policies. Shein does not provide any information about the suppliers it works with.
Shein has been accused of using child labour. Some TikTok users posted some videos which showed that their parcel came with ‘Help Me’ and ‘Kids at Shein ask for help help’ tags.
However, Shein responded through their TikTok account by saying that these videos are misleading and contain false information.
Is Shein Sustainable?
In terms of sustainability, Shein falls in the grey line. It doesn’t provide much information about their sustainability steps.
Shein has taken some steps to reduce its environmental impacts such as the use of Faux fur and the production of 50-100 pieces of clothing per design so that there would be fewer unsold items.
Shein does not provide any information about carbon emission and water wastage. They have also not mentioned any steps they might have taken to lower the water wastage and carbon emission.
How Ethically Bad Is Shein?
Shein does not provide much information about their ethics. They have mentioned that they don’t use child labor or forced labor. Still, many people accuse Shein of using child labour.
Shein denies these rumours but still does not provide much information regarding this issue.
Shein is known for stealing designs of small brands and artists. They are also known to sell cheap versions of designer clothes.
Shein also got controversial when the data of 6.42 million users was compromised in 2018. Due to privacy concerns, the Indian government banned Shein in June 2020.
A Canadian professor found that a toddler jacket of Shein contains 20 times more lead than the amount of lead permitted by Canada’s Health Safety regulations.
Shein does not provide much information about carbon emission and water wastage.
Hence, Shein is ethically worse than many other Fast Fashion companies.
Shein is a Chinese Fast Fashion company that is considered worse than many other Fast Fashion companies.
Shein is not transparent about its policies about sustainability and workers’ ethics.