“Inside The Shein Machine”: The Dark Reality of Fast Fashion

Photo from graziadaily.co.uk

By now, most shoppers are aware that fast fashion is rather detrimental to not only our environment, but also the employees who work in these factories.

For the first time ever, Channel 4’s documentary called “Inside The Shein Machine: Untold” reveals the dark reality of working conditions and policies at fast fashion giant SHEIN through hidden cameras.

Check out this video from Spotlight On China for more information about the documentary:

Video from Channel 4
What The Footage Found

These hidden cameras revealed that employees typically work 17-hour shifts to create 500 clothing items per day. Employees are paid around two to four cents for each garment made, which is an unfair (and illegal in some countries) wage for workers.

The footage also showed that SHEIN has no tolerance for mistakes. If an employee would make any mistakes while producing items, their daily base salary is cut by almost 2/3 of a day’s work.

Photo from graziadaily.co.uk

In addition to low pay, SHEIN also gives their employees off one day a month. One worker said that there is “no such thing as Sundays here,” with little to no time off.

Another worker claimed that she had to wash her hair during her lunch break because she had no time outside of work to do so.

Photo from inews.co.uk
The Implications of this Documentary

Similar to other sweatshop documentaries, the public is now outraged about this new information regarding SHEIN’s treatment of their employees. The company is experiencing major backlash on social media platforms such as Twitter and Tik Tok, where users are refusing to shop at Shein.

Twitter user @mcmansionhell tweeted about how consumers can no longer justify SHEIN’s low prices at the expense of cruel working conditions.

Similarly, another Twitter user, @biggrrlbritches, tweeted about how Instagram influencers should stop posting Shein hauls as a result of Channel 4’s investigation.

What Shein Has to Say

This is not the first time that SHEIN has experienced accusations of unfair wages and inhumane working conditions. As a result of former accusations, a SHEIN spokesperson told BBC News in 2021 that the company “upholds appropriate conditions and wages for their workers.”

In response to the film’s release, SHEIN told Business Insider that:

“We take claims like this very seriously and are going to immediately look into this report. Shein works continuously with our suppliers to ensure we have safe and regulated working conditions for their factory workers. If our findings prove to be otherwise we will take swift action to make sure this is upheld.”

What This Means for the Future of Fast Fashion

Georgia Portogallo, head of an influencer marketing agency in Britain, has stopped recruiting influencers for SHEIN as a result of the documentary.

Portogallo said that her company will “no longer be working with Shein, no longer getting our [her] clients any collaborations with Shein, until their working conditions change.”

Photo from inews.co.uk

While it is beneficial that shoppers and influencers alike are halting their partnerships with SHEIN, it is predicted that this movement is short-lived.

Similar to other sweatshop exposure documentaries, shoppers will often not purchase from the brand for a while, and then unfortunately resort back to the brand for clothes at low prices.

What do you think of “Inside the Shein Machine”? Tweet us your thoughts @VALLEYMag!

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