Allegations that have been denied by the company founded by Chinese entrepreneur Chris Xu in 2008.
Still, Shein’s strategy looks unsustainable just days before the latest round of global climate talks at the COP28 Summit in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai.
“It has managed to take the already unsustainable fast fashion business model beyond this extreme, and depends on the exploitation of the environment and people,” Viola Wohlgemuth, of Greenpeace Germany, said.
“[Shein] churns out staggering numbers of dirt cheap, disposable fashion items, with more new styles per day than any other fast fashion brand. Because the clothes are so cheap, most returns probably end up in landfills,” she wrote last year.
Fast and furious:
- Shein “confidentially filed” for an initial public offering in New York on Tuesday, according to media reports, despite concerns about its Chinese connections.
- It has customers in more than 150 countries and employs around 11,000 people, the website revealed.
- It also stated that its “business model” means there is “less waste” for a company valued at around US$60 billion.
- Yet environmental campaigners view Shein “as a prime contributor to the mountains of discarded waste textiles exported to countries in the Global South,” Reuters reported.
Between the lines: Peter Pernot-Day, the global head of strategic communications at Shein, defended the retailer’s record in a Reuters report and said the group “was working hard to reduce waste.”
Delve deeper: Dilys Williams, the director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion, highlighted the flaws in Shein’s business model.
What was said: “Its extraordinary rise comes despite a poor social and environmental record … not to mention the labor conditions found among its suppliers,” she stressed.
Big picture: “Shein is taking fast fashion, an already resource-depleting model in environmental and social terms, to fresh depths,” Williams wrote in a commentary for the London-based Observer, part of The Guardian media group, last year.
China Factor comment: In the end, it is up to consumers across the planet to finally dump this unsustainable “throwaway culture” and not just in fashion.