Shein’s Questionable Success

Shein, an online fast fashion retailer based in China, is now worth over 100 billion dollars and is one of the top five online stores, along with Amazon. The company is known for its cheap clothing and easy-access shipping. But how do they sustain these low prices while making so much money?

Some say the use of inexpensive material; another argument is the use of underpaid workers and staff. 

“I believe Shein’s success stems from manual labor and the cheaper, maybe even dangerous materials used for their products,” freshman Nirvana Khaleeli said. 

According to senior writer Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz on The Cut, “In one factory, Channel 4 found that workers receive a base salary of roughly $556 to make 500 pieces of clothing per day and that their first month’s pay is withheld from them.”

This comes out to around four cents per item. Workers work up to 18 hours per day and are only given one day off per month. 

Because of these hard working conditions, pleas for help have been periodically found hidden in Shein’s clothing tags. Employees write notes such as “Need your help” or “I have dental pain” in an effort to grab customers’ attention. 

Apart from the working conditions, Shein’s quality may also be harmful to customers. In an experiment done by Greenpeace, it was found that “Product tests on 47 Shein products found that 15% contained hazardous chemicals that break EU regulatory limits, with five of these products breaking the limits by 100% or more.”

The effects of this on customers could include allergic reactions or more long-term effects, such as types of cancer and developmental issues from the harsher chemicals.

However, there is an upside to this fast-fashion company. 

“While I do understand some of the downsides to order from Shein, it is an extremely convenient and fast way to add to your closet,” freshman Sarah Huang said. “I could find something that would normally be 100 dollars for only 10, and have it at my doorstep within three days.”

“I do understand why people would order from Shein,” Khaleeli said. “Shein’s cheap prices make shopping easier and more affordable, but is it worth it, considering all the downsides and dangers from the company?”