The internet is fuming after fast fashion behemoth Shein invited social media influencers and online stars on an all-expenses-paid trip to visit its main facilities — a move many are calling a PR junket.
Shein flew six U.S.-based internet personalities out to its factory in Guangzhou, China, and its headquarters in Singapore. Footage from the trip revealed that Shein treated these influencers to luxury hotel rooms and outings, and interviews of the guests feature glowing reviews of the brand’s ethics.
As NPR reported, this trip may have been an attempt to strengthen Shein’s public image ahead of a potential initial public hearing over the brand’s labor practices. Contradicting Shein’s extensive history of questionable and exploitative business practices, the attitude of these influencers and the seemingly spotless factory are what ultimately sent the internet into a fury.
They only invited people with zero critical thinking, eating this propaganda up! pic.twitter.com/LS1Lgh2ISh— Kim (@TheKimbino) June 25, 2023
Kim’s tweet claimed that the fast fashion giant used gullible influencers to peddle a false narrative about the working conditions of its factories.
“They only invited people with zero critical thinking, eating this propaganda up!” Kim wrote.
Shein is in a league of its own as a fast fashion company, churning out thousands of new styles daily. This business model is made possible by exploiting workers in the Global South — exposing them to abuse, unsafe working conditions, deplorable wages, and excessive hours — despite its $24 billion 2022 revenue.
Along with the despicable treatment of its workers, one of the greatest controversies of fast fashion as an entire industry is its devastating effect on the environment.
Producing 100 billion garments a year, the fashion industry is responsible for 4-8% of planet-warming gas pollution, and it excessively wastes natural resources, including roughly 70 million barrels of oil annually.
People across social media platforms are not holding back on their criticism of Shein and the participating internet personalities.
Another Twitter user, who claims to have two decades’ worth of experience visiting fashion manufacturers, dissected one of the influencers’ videos in a thread, pointing out aspects of the video that suggest the location visited is a staged factory.
Others took a more light-hearted approach to critiquing this event.One TikToker even satirized this event by comparing it to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, one of the deadliest industrial disasters in American history.
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