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The hidden reality of Shein factories 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Aberdeen chapter.

Shein has been the fastest-growing fast-fashion brand on the planet, exceeding all its fellow companies’ sales rates. The global online store, primarily known for its wide range of clothes, became extremely famous in 2020 during the Covid19 pandemic, and TikTok substantially accelerated its popularisation process. Although the company was founded in 2008, it only reached its peak and achieved global success in recent years. The company is renowned for its versatile range of clothing, and is highly popular due to its unbelievably cheap prices. 

However, Shein’s shockingly low prices are specifically where questions concerning the company’s authenticity stem from. Anyone who has made purchases from Shein or who has shown interest in the company will at some point have had doubts concerning its price point. Indeed, it all seems too good to be true. 

People all around the world adore Shein for its affordability, but most of us are unaware of a massive issue being hidden behind the fun and accessible front it displays. 

A documentary called Inside the Shein Machine was aired in October 2022, in which the Journalist Iman Amrani documents an undercover reporter infiltrating a Chinese Shein factory, to reveal the disgraceful truths about the company. Indeed, the documentary reveals that Shein profits from the exploitation of its employees. One employee revealed that he works for seventeen hours a day for a pay of an estimated 572 euros a month.  

Furthermore, they are only granted one day off per month, and are exposed to unacceptable working conditions. Those who make mistakes while assembling the clothing are punished by being paid as little as a third of their already low wage. The employees predominantly consist of migrants who are in desperate need of work, and are deserving of so much more than the exploitation they undergo in the factories. Their work is truly tiresome and laborious, and they are expected to produce estimately 500 garments every day, for 4 cents a piece. 

Unfortunately, Shein is not the only company guilty of the exploitation of its employees, as many other mass clothing brands go down the same route.  

Despite being often neglected, the well-being and fair treatment of employees is a highly important factor in global businesses, and it is truly necessary to shed light on the issue of the exploitation of employees. Unfortunately, the size of the company makes it complicated for the situation to be overturned, but spreading awareness about what is happening can hopefully be the beginning of bringing change. 

Source: Channel 4 Documentaries, Inside the Shein Machine: UNTOLD (October 2022) 

Ella Haig

Aberdeen '24

My name is Ella and I'm 20 years old. I'm from France and I'm studying English and History at the university of Aberdeen. I'm passionate about writing and would love to have a career in it one day!