The Honest Truth Behind An Online Store: Shein Labor Law Allegations


Tiktok: @noeroe5, Original Clip: ABC Channel 7 News

ABC Channel 7 News Clip on Shein Factory Working Conditions

The Online-only fashion store “Shein” sells affordable and trending clothes. They are popular around the world for their affordable clothes and accessories. However, many aren’t aware of what has been going on in the company behind closed doors: being accused of working with suppliers who violate labor laws.

The company was founded in 2008 by Chris Xu in Nanjing, China. One of their strategies to acquire more users is through micro-influencer marketing. These micro-influencers have a big amount of followers on social media. They post on Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok and get free products delivered to them every month. Many of them also get 10 to 20% commission from Shein’s referral sales. These influencers model mountains of new clothing in a positive light that can be purchased for a fraction of other retailers’ prices.

Shein’s successful marketing strategy demonstrates a sincere understanding of the new generation; desire for convenient clothing, shoes, accessories, and even home essentials. This company is mainly known for their affordable pricing having over 43.7 million users worldwide, while in the US alone there’s 10 million monthly users.

While they do have affordable and trending clothing, their items are low quality. Some expect this considering their pricing while others have higher expectations due to the positive advertising.

Various companies have filed a lawsuit against Shein for copyright infringement; selling products very similar to other designers without their approval.

Shein has been accused of working with suppliers that work with suppliers who violate labor laws. “The amount being produced has reportedly led Shein to violate labor laws, according to BBC News. Per a report by Swiss advocacy group, Public Eye, some Shein employees work 75 hours a week and three shifts a day. Public Eye also reported that workers often only get one day off a month.”

The labor accusations, especially a child labor “rumor” and theory, are a very serious issue as well. These allegations have been heard and seen by many people who have ordered off of the site. They claim to have said the tags on their clothing or small papers allegedly had “need your help” or “help me.”

Shein “subjects workers to horrible conditions and long hours for meager pay—as well as child labor.” In June 2022, videos went viral on social media claiming that Shein employees were hiding messages in the clothes they produced.”

A number of TikTok creators posted videos of compiled photos of purported fast fashion tags and packaging with concerning messages from factory workers. One video that had been posted having millions of views and likes, shows a piece of paper that says “help me plz”, a mailing label with “HELP ME”, handwritten notes with “SOS! SOS! SOS!

This has led people to believe that many of their workers are children and people in need of help and a better life. Now that many more people are aware of their terrible company, people are extremely concerned and have decided not to purchase from their site.