Chinese online fast fashion, beauty, and lifestyle retailer Shein has been in the fashion news, and not for good reasons either.
It has not been long since the international B2C fast fashion platform’s parent company, Zoetop was fined $1.9m for a data breach which resulted in the theft of 39 million login details of Shein accounts back in 2018 after a targeted hack.
Shein is back in the news, this time in an exposé that unveils the appalling conditions of its workers.
The exposé, done by the UK broadcast television network Channel 4, had an undercover worker film inside two supply factories of the fast fashion giant revealed that, in one factory, workers earned a base salary of 4,000 yuan (about $700) to make 500 clothing pieces a day, and had their first-month salary withheld from them. Inside another factory, workers earned an equivalent of four cents per clothing item.
The exposé also revealed workers in both factories had to work up to 18 hours a day with one day off in a month. Channel 4 exposé reports of women washing their hair during lunch breaks as there was little time left after work. A penalty of two-thirds of workers’ daily wage was dealt if a mistake on a clothing item was made.
The reported working hours and conditions of the workers are a direct violation of China’s labor laws. In a response to Business Insider about the revelation, Shein said “Any non-compliance with this code is dealt with swiftly, and we will terminate partnerships that do not meet our standards” The company has also requested for specific information from Channel 4 to enable them to investigate the issue.
Shein has been constantly criticized in the past for its working conditions, toxic chemicals found in clothing, and for stealing designs from independent designers and selling them for a cheaper price.
The company recently launched its resale platform Shein Exchange which will enable users to buy and sell previously owned Shein products.