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

Shein is a fast fashion company selling clothes for as cheap as  $1.50. The United Kingdom’s Channel 4 sent an undercover investigator into the Shein factories to achieve a behind-the-scenes look into the world’s largest retailer. 

The investigator discovered the fast fashion company’s unimaginable working conditions. Shein employees work upwards of 18 hours a day, without weekends. 

Due to their extensive work days, employees use their breaks to do tasks like wash their hair. 

Employees make around 4,000 yuan a month, approximately $556 in U.S. dollars. Employees make as little as 0.27 yuan (less than 0.4 cents), per clothing item. On top of the minimal salary, the workers’ first month’s pay is withheld from them. 

In April 2022, Shein was valued at a record-breaking $100 Billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Shein violates Chinese labor laws, which include eight-hour days and 40-hour weeks. Shein is worth billions of dollars, but cannot pay its workers a fair wage for the company’s exploitative demands. 

In addition to insufficient pay, Shein is a major contributor to fast fashion’s part in the climate crisis. 

Fast fashion is a rapidly growing industry. Trends are fast and short-lived, meaning fast-fashion companies have to produce large quantities of trendy clothes in a short period of time. 

Shein produces around 700 to 1,000 new products a day, euronews reported. Research shows that clothing production emits at least 47,399,386.4 million US tons of chemicals annually. Fast fashion is an energy-demanding and wasteful industry.  

Shein makes it clear that the company caters to the market by quickly producing mass amounts of trendy clothes every day.

“Our digital supply chain is the core of our business model and empowers us to offer a wide range of on-trend styles without creating excessive inventory waste or making customers wait weeks for their orders to be fulfilled,” according to Shein’s website

According to BBC, the fashion industry makes up 8-10% of global emissions. Shein is one of the largest contributors of the emissions clothes are responsible for, especially as a fast fashion, mass production company. 

Shein is also the most talked about brand on TikTok. It is unlikely to see a decline in the company’s popularity anytime soon. 

Instead of shopping from fast fashion brands that violate human rights and are harmful to the environment, thrifting and sustainable brands are viable alternate options. 

Hannah is a journalism student at American University who is currently pursuing a degree in journalism. She serves as the publishing director at HCAU. In her free time, Hannah finds enjoyment in reading, running, and attending Nationals games.