The fast fashion group Shein is known for its cheap fashion and has repeatedly made negative headlines in the past due to controversial production and working conditions. Now the company was apparently trying to limit the damage by inviting six American influencers to one of its factories in Guangzhou, China. They received a lot of criticism on social media.
From their visit, the influencers diligently posted videos showing them visiting Shein's so-called "Innovation Factory", where patterns for the garments are primarily to be created. In their travel reports, they repeatedly assure how clean and beautiful everything is on site and how happy the employees seem at their jobs. They would also have normal working hours. One of the influencers commented in her travelogue that the workers "didn't even sweat" at work. The tenor of the videos: There is no trace of the supposedly bad working conditions, for which Shein is repeatedly criticized.
Followers of the influencers are now criticizing them for not questioning Shein's invitation critically enough and for allowing themselves to be exploited for a PR campaign. Under one of the videos, a user commented: "You saw this empty factory floor with unoccupied workstations and workers cutting the fabrics for each garment individually - and you thought that they were making millions of garments a day? At the prices, they ask for?"
The company itself said after the shitstorm as follows: "Shein is committed to transparency, and this trip shows how we listen to feedback (...)" The trip gave a group of influencers the opportunity to see , how Shein works and to share your insights with your followers.
The concept that Shein works on is also called ultra fast fashion. This means that more clothes are being produced even faster than fast fashion companies like H
Away from the occasional pop-up store, Shein only sells its fashion online. With the help of artificial intelligence, the network is constantly searched for new trends in order to produce them as quickly as possible. There have also been allegations that the group keeps copying designs from smaller labels or fashion designers. The company is therefore faced with several lawsuits.
The media and NGOs have repeatedly reported about inhumane working conditions at Shein in recent years. According to the report by the Swiss NGO "Public Eye", working hours of 75 hours per week should be normal in the production facilities in Guangzhou, with only one day of vacation per month. According to research by the British TV broadcaster "Channel 4", the payment is said to be less than 500 euros per month, while workers are expected to produce 500 pieces of clothing per day.
Shein's ultra-fast fashion is also very harmful to the environment because of its fast-paced production. Many items of clothing end up in the trash. Greenpeace also published a report last year that found harmful chemicals in around a third of the garments tested.
Sources: Forbes, CNN Business, Euronews, ntv.de, Watson, Instagram