Shein has become very popular as a site to buy “fast fashion” from.
They have some really cute and totally trendy clothes and accessories at prices we can all afford.
But recently, Shein was called out on TikTok. People say workers are sewing ‘help’ messages onto their clothing tags, and it’s freaking the social media world out.
Maybe Shein is not such a good company to buy your clothes from?
What is Fast Fashion?
According Investopedia, fast fashion is a term for clothes that are mass-produced very quickly. It’s trending and not meant to last very long – about as long as the trend itself.
Fast fashion is the term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from catwalks to stores to take advantage of trends. Collections are often based on styles shown on Fashion Week shows or worn by celebrities. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to buy the trendy new look or the next big thing at an affordable price.
Fast fashion companies sometimes introduce new styles every week to fuel that instant gratification trend that we crave and are so used to.
Why is fast fashion a bad thing?
First of all, from an environmental point of view, it’s terrible.
Fast fashion “encourages a ‘throw away’ attitude, with followers wearing their on-trend products once or twice and then throwing them away. All those disposable outfits have to go somewhere.
This is where landfills come into play.
Second, and even more worrying, is the production of fast fashion clothing and accessories.
Fast fashion is predicated on poor working conditions, low wages, and other abusive and exploitative practices.
In Shein’s case, there have even been reports of factory workers in China sewing “help” messages into clothing tags.
What are those “help” messages found on Shein clothing labels?
Just go to TikTok to find all kinds of videos calling on Shein to use forced labor and unethical practices.
There is video after video that shows Shein clothing tags with “help” messages right in the tags.
One particular TikTok video from last month, which now has more than 6.7 million likes on the app, displayed a collection of the various messages Shein customers would have found on the tags, including: “SOS!” SOS! SOS! “, “I have a toothache” and “Help me”.
What does Shein have to say about these “help” messages?
The Shein Company is quick to offer an explanation for some beacons.
They claim that many of the so-called “help” messages sewn onto the labels actually came from other companies, not their own.
Shein says these rumors are associated with old news and have nothing to do with the Shein company.
They confirmed that a particular viral image of an item with the words “Need your help” on their clothes was actually just a mistranslation of the care label which advised customers to use a milder detergent.
What does the Shein TikTok video say about working conditions?
On June 1, Shein posted a video that called the “help message” videos fake.
This was an ABC report in 2015 about a package from the Philippines. Not Shein.
This photo is from a 2014 BBC report on a well-known European fashion brand. Not Shein.
This is a label made in Bangladesh, taken from a photo website. Not Shein.
This poorly worded label simply asks customers to help keep the fabric soft by using a milder detergent.
We want to make it very clear that we take supply chain issues seriously. Our strict code of conduct prohibits suppliers from using child labor or forced labor and we do not tolerate non-compliance.
15 days later, Shein posted a follow-up video on TikTok that again addressed the “fabric softener etiquette” and their loyal code of conduct.
Recently there has been some confusion about one of our product labels – Our intention was to remind customers to help soften this fabric by using fabric softener in the first wash of the garment. The fabric is digitally printed, a process that reduces water usage, unlike traditional textile printing which consumes a lot of water.
They go on to say that they have a strict code of conduct that their suppliers must agree to and follow. This code of conduct prohibits them from using forced labor.
So what do you think? Valid explanations or horrible working environments for employees in China?