In the Shein online store you can choose from more than 4,900 garments classified as “women’s dress”. There are also 4,588 suits, compared to 80 on the Zara website, for example. Shein is the Chinese brand that reigns in “low cost” fashion and has caught up with Inditex thanks to campaigns on social networks supported by hauls of influencers on Tik Tok and Instagram, cheap prices and discounts of all kinds.
If Inditex is already associated with the guarantee that there will be new designs in its stores every week, Shein promises to do so every day. You can add 2,000 new models in one day. Thanks to this, it has managed to surpass Zara in sales on-line already Amazon as the most downloaded app in the United States, according to data from Bloomberg. But that pace comes at a price and a British TV documentary Channel 4 and the diary The I Newspaper has revealed what it is.
Thanks to the infiltration of a journalist in one of the company’s factories in Guangzhou, southeast China, the documentary Inside the Shein Machine (Inside the machinery of Shein), issued last Monday, has brought to light working hours of up to 18 hours, with only one day off per month, and wage conditions that violate Chinese law and the code of conduct of the company itself.
The documentary has revealed the working conditions and wages of Shein workers. The employees of the factories in which she enters Channel 4 they work for two of Shein’s suppliers. In one of the factories they charge a base salary of 4,000 yuan (565 euros) per month for making a minimum of 500 garments per day. In the other, they charge per ready-made garment: 0.27 yuan, the equivalent of 4 euro cents.
Without emergency exits and with bars on the windows
These data coincide with what has already been reported. researchers from the Swiss organization Public Eye: work rooms without emergency exits, stairs that do not allow to leave the building quickly and windows with bars. A very different environment from the one that the company undertakes to guarantee in the code of conduct for its suppliers, posted on your own websitewhich ensures that “supplier partners must provide a safe, hygienic and healthy work environment”.
Shein, through a statement, affirms that the company is “absolutely committed” to this code of conduct and that it will study the complaints that appear in the documentary of Channel 4. While fulfilling its “mission” to make fashion “affordable for everyone”, Shein has stated that it is “very important that its suppliers provide a fair and safe working environment for their workers”.
The Chinese company adds that it has invested about 15 million dollars to improve the factories of “hundreds” of suppliers and that an independent audit carried out by Intertek found that workers received an average hourly wage that is double the local minimum wage. “We will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure that the employees in our supply chain, who make our business possible, are treated fairly and with respect,” the statement said.
A career surrounded by controversy
The documentary of Channel 4 It has gone beyond the investigation of working conditions in Shein factories and also denounces examples of plagiarism in its garments. The copying of designs had previously been denounced by different artists, but that has not prevented its growth. In the latest round of financing held by the company, Shein has received a valuation of 100,000 million dollars: it would be worth more than H&M and Zara combined, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Chinese company was also the subject of another Public Eye investigation for its use of “dark patterns”, as online strategies are known to condition the decisions of users of your online store. According to the organization, Shein uses up to 18 methods for commercial purposes but that influence the behavior of consumers so that they make more purchases and more quickly, but also so that they give up more personal data than necessary.