Shein has become hella popular as a site from which to purchase “fast fashion.”
They have really cute, totally on-trend clothing and accessories at prices we can all afford.
But recently, Shein has been called out on TikTok. People are saying that workers are stitching “help” messages into the labels of their clothing, and this has the social media world freaking out.
Maybe Shein isn’t such a great company from which to purchase your clothing?
What Is Fast Fashion?
According to Investopedia, fast fashion is a term for clothing that is mass produced really quickly. It is on trend, and is not made 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 the catwalk to stores to take advantage of trends. The collections are often based on styles presented at Fashion Week runway shows or worn by celebrities. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase the hot new look or the next big thing at an affordable price.Investopedia
Fast fashion companies will sometimes introduce new styles every week to feed into that instant gratification trend that we crave and have become so accustomed to.
Why Is Fast Fashion A Bad Thing?
First of all, from an environmental standpoint, it’s awful.
Fast fashion “encourages a ‘throw-away’ attitude, with devotees wearing their on-trend products once or twice, and then tossing them out. All those throw-away outfits have to go somewhere.
That’s where landfills come into play.
Secondly, and even more concerning, is the production of fast fashion clothing and accessories.
Fast fashion is built on bad working conditions, poor pay, and other abusive, exploitative practices.Investopedia
In the case of Shein, there have even been reports of factory workers in China sewing “help” messages into the clothing tags.
What Are These “Help” Messages Found On The Tags Of Shein Clothing?
One only has to go as far as TikTok to find all kinds of videos calling out Shein for using forced labor and unethical practices.
There is video after video that shows Shein clothing tags with “help” messages right into the labels.
One particular TikTok video from last month, which now boasts over 6.7 million likes on the app, displayed a collection of the different messages that Shein customers had allegedly found on tags, including: ‘SOS! SOS! SOS!’, ‘I have dental pain’, and ‘Help Me’.Tyla
What Does Shein Have To Say About These “Help” Messages?
The Shein company is quick to offer an explanation for some of the tags.
They claim that many of the alleged “help” messages stitched onto the tags were actually from other companies, and not from theirs.
Shein says that these rumors are associated with old news stories, and have nothing to do with the Shein company.
They confirmed that one particular viral image of an item that read ‘Need your help’ on their clothes was really just a poor translation from the care label that advised customers to use a softer detergent.Tyla
What Does The Shein TikTok Video About Working Conditions Have To Say?
On June 1st, Shein posted a video that called out the “help message” videos as false.
This was an ABC news story in 2015 about a package from the Philippines. Not Shein.shein_official
This picture was from a 2014 BBC news report of a well-known European fashion brand. Not Shein.shein_official
This is a label made in Bangladesh, taken from a stock photo website. Not Shein.shein_official
This poorly worded label is simply asking customers to help keep the fabric soft by using a softer detergent.shein_official
We want to make it very clear that we take supply chain matters seriously. Our strict Code of Conduct prohibits suppliers from using child or forced labor and we do not tolerate non-compliance.shein_official
15 days later, Shein posted a follow up TikTok video that again addressed the “fabric softener tag” and their staunch 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 softener when washing the garment for the first time. The fabric is digitally printed, a process which reduces the use of water, as opposed to traditional, water-intensive textile printing.shein_official
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 forbids them to use forced labor.
So, what do you think? Valid explanations, or horrible working environments for the employees in China?