(AP) — SHEIN (formerly Xu) has been around since 2015, but exploded during the pandemic to a $30 billion company. The prominent fashion giant has earned immense popularity for its affordable prices and trendy fashion offerings. However, beneath the allure of accessible fashion lies a troubling concern—unethical practices that have recently come to light.

Despite its budget-friendly appeal and diverse product range, SHEIN faces criticism for its fast-fashion impact, contributing to environmental concerns due to rapid production and textile waste. Moreover, the company has faced accusations of copyright infringement, copying original designs without permission or compensation from designers and brands.

Additionally, reports of poor working conditions and the use of toxic chemicals in their supply chain have sparked discussions about the moral cost of such fashion trends. We’ll delve into the SHEIN effect, questioning the price we’re willing to pay as a society for fashion.

Recent Controversy Surrounding SHEIN

Amid mounting criticism for labor law violations and environmental impact, six influencers were invited by SHEIN to tour the company’s manufacturing facilities and innovation center in China. The influencers, including Aujené, Dani Carbonari, Destene Sudduth, Fernanda Stephany Campuzano, Kenya Freeman, and Marina Saavedra, designed a collection released on June 26.

However, the trip sparked uproar on social media, with accusations that the influencers were shown a model factory and paid to promote propaganda, raising concerns about the company’s practices ahead of a possible public offering.

Labor Law Violations and Environmental Concerns

Investigative reporting has exposed SHEIN’s use of cheap labor in violation of Chinese labor laws and its negative environmental impact. The brand faced allegations of evading U.S. tariff laws and violating human rights codes, as mentioned in a recent House committee report.

Notably, Greenpeace Germany’s report revealed hazardous chemicals in 32 percent of tested SHEIN products, while Public Eye’s investigation uncovered severe labor violations in workshops producing clothing mainly for SHEIN. Additionally, SHEIN was found to have violated the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and made false claims about certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

SHEIN’s Response and Sustainability Efforts

In response to the controversies, SHEIN claimed to comply with local laws through its Supplier Code of Conduct, which applies to over 6,000 supplier partners. The brand’s 2021 Sustainability and Social Impact Report highlighted the use of last-mile shipping providers with eco-friendly vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SHEIN also introduced a resale model to promote sustainability. Nevertheless, the brand faces ongoing scrutiny, with questions raised about its transparency regarding working conditions and labor practices.

The Pros of Shopping with SHEIN

When it comes to budget-friendly fashion, SHEIN undoubtedly takes the lead. With its extensive range of trendy clothing and accessories at unbelievably low prices, the brand has become a go-to destination for fashion enthusiasts on a budget.

Whether you’re a student trying to keep up with the latest trends or a thrifty shopper looking for stylish bargains, SHEIN’s affordability appeals to various demographics and budgets. It allows fashion lovers to stay on-trend without breaking the bank, making it an attractive choice for those seeking affordable yet fashionable options.

Trendy and Inclusive Selection

SHEIN’s product selection embraces diversity and caters to an array of fashion styles and preferences. Their vast inventory encompasses everything from chic streetwear to elegant evening wear, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Whether you prefer classic silhouettes or bold and experimental designs, SHEIN has it all.

Furthermore, the brand promotes inclusivity in fashion trends by featuring models of different sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds. This focus on diversity resonates with customers who seek representation and inclusiveness in the fashion industry, making SHEIN an appealing choice for many.

Global Reach and Accessibility

One of SHEIN’s key advantages lies in its extensive global reach. With shipping services to multiple countries, the brand has succeeded in making fashion trends accessible to people worldwide. Fashion lovers from different corners of the globe can now access the latest styles and runway-inspired looks conveniently, irrespective of their geographical location.

SHEIN’s commitment to delivering fashion at your doorstep breaks down barriers and ensures that fashion knows no boundaries. This international accessibility has contributed significantly to SHEIN’s popularity and its status as a fashionista’s paradise.

Unveiling Unethical Practices

SHEIN’s rapid production and fast-fashion practices have raised significant environmental concerns. The relentless pursuit of keeping up with ever-changing trends leads to massive textile waste, as garments are quickly discarded to make way for new styles.

This “throwaway culture” contributes to environmental degradation, straining resources, and filling landfills. The toll on the environment due to SHEIN’s fast-fashion approach is a pressing issue that demands attention and responsible solutions.

Copyright Infringement

The fashion giant has faced accusations of copyright infringement, with designers and brands claiming that SHEIN copies their original designs without proper permission or compensation. Such practices have sparked outrage within the fashion community, challenging the ethical foundations of the industry.

Notable instances of copyright infringement have led to legal disputes and damage to the brand’s reputation. This raises questions about the responsibility of fashion companies in respecting intellectual property rights and supporting creative innovation.

Poor Working Conditions

Reports have shed light on the reported working conditions in SHEIN’s supply chain, revealing troubling realities for factory workers. Employees in the production process often endure harsh working conditions, including long hours and minimal breaks.

Additionally, high levels of toxic chemicals used in manufacturing pose serious health risks to workers. The alleged violation of labor laws and the lack of proper employee contracts further amplify concerns about workers’ welfare and rights. Addressing these issues is crucial to ensure fair and ethical treatment of the individuals contributing to the company’s success.

Ethical Fashion Alternatives and Consumer Awareness

The rise of ethical and sustainable fashion has been gaining momentum as consumers become increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impact of their fashion choices. Ethical fashion emphasizes fair labor practices, eco-friendly materials, and responsible manufacturing processes.

Consumers can make informed choices by researching brands’ sustainability initiatives, transparency reports, and certifications. The collective effort between the buyer and supplier is crucial in building a more sustainable and socially responsible fashion landscape.

SHEIN’s Response and Industry Reactions

In the face of controversies and allegations, SHEIN’s official stance remains a topic of interest. The potential impact on the business and reputation is not to be underestimated. Their ability to adapt and respond to these challenges will determine its future standing in the industry. As consumers demand more equitable practices, brands that fail to meet these expectations may face consequences in terms of customer loyalty and market share.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.