“Behind the 2-euro t-shirts or the 9-euro dresses hides an operating system of rare violence”


Ihe Chinese brand Shein has become a “fast fashion” giant in just a few years. Nothing seems to resist its ascent. But behind the 2-euro t-shirts or the 9-euro dresses hides an operating system of rare violence.

According to a survey by the NGO Public Eye, the workers who produce for Shein – workers who come from the poorest provinces of China – work twelve hours a day, with only one day off per month. Most often without a work contract and without insurance.

A documentary from the British channel Channel 4 took us a little further inside the Shein system, in two of the brand’s factories. On the images filmed by hidden camera, we discover exhausted employees working 18 hours a day.

An investigation by Bloomberg – which had Shein fabric analyzed by a German laboratory – reveals that Shein uses cotton from the Uighur region, the region where at least half a million Uighurs are detained and exploited for cotton cultivation.

Read also: Forced labor of the Uighurs: several associations file a new complaint against four multinational clothing companies

The ultra-low prices for the consumer therefore have a cost: this cost is paid by the workers on the other side of the world, it is that of the energy expenditure required to produce millions of garments considered disposable, potentially toxic to health and the ecosystems in which they end up.

Symbol of corporate impunity

These ultra-low prices also have a cost for French and European companies which close one after the other in the face of the Shein juggernaut whose extremely low prices are unfair practices. These unfair practices continue through the company’s permanent lies about its promotions: they are false and do not comply with French legislation.

Lies about promotions, non-respect of social rights, deleterious working conditions, precarious safety standards, hellish pace, exposure of production lines to forced labor, supply renewal at a frantic pace, aggressive communication strategy pushing frantically to overconsumption, extortion of personal data, “spamming” on social networks aimed particularly at the youngest: Shein pushes the most deleterious logics of “fast fashion” to the limit.

Read also this forum (2023): Article reserved for our subscribers Textile: “The logic of “fast fashion” commercial practices makes the worker the slave of an industry that grows fat and flouts human rights”

Shein is the most powerful symbol of the culture of impunity that has long dominated global trade: the company hides behind its subcontractors to discard and does not publish any information about its supply chain.

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