Turn on dark theme
Turn on light theme

search on refresher

Denisa Šútorová
December 26, 2022, 6:00pm
Reading time: 5:30

Shein Is The Brand Of 2022, Even If It's Destroying The Planet. Woman's Hand Became Paralyzed After Using Their Product.

The largest online fashion company, which is worth $100 million, is facing a wave of criticism for unethical and dangerous practices. In addition to clothing, toxic substances were also found in accessories and cosmetics.

Denisa Šútorová
December 26, 2022, 6:00pm
Reading time: 5:30
Share Share article
Stay fresh and follow us:
REFRESHER refreshercom


Clothing at affordable prices, the ability to offer fast-changing trends and mastery of social networks brought the ultra fast fashion brand Shein to fame. According to the statistics of the financial experts of the Money platform, it is the most popular fashion brand in 2022. It currently has 26.8 million followers on Instagram.


However, in addition to the first place, the Chinese company has also earned a flood of criticism in recent months. Serious information has come to the surface, which says that the materials of Shein clothing, including children's, contain carcinogenic heavy metals. However, in addition to toxic production, the fashion giant also has other incriminating cases on its list. Read interesting facts about the functioning of the brand, which according to Euromonitor is worth 100 billion US dollars, which makes it the largest online fashion company in the world.


Source: Instagram/Shein campaign

It overtook both Asos and Boohoo

Founded in 2008, Shein has also been crowned the most searched for clothing brand, not just in the UK, but in 113 other countries around the world. In 2020, the brand earned 10 billion US dollars in revenue, while its biggest rivals, such as Asos and Bohoo, landed only 4.4 billion and 2.4 billion respectively.


According to the Telegraph, the popularity of the Shein brand increased during the pandemic, when it took over social networks. From Tiktok and Instagram, it directed users to the clever and manipulative site, where algorithms allegedly pushed them into impulsive purchases through.


Clothes for babies were also contaminated


Greenpeace Germany bought five items from its pop-up store in Munich and 42 products, including clothing for men, women, children and babies, from websites in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland for Sheina's investigation. The products were sent to an independent BUI laboratory for chemical analysis.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by SHEIN.COM (@sheinofficial)


"Greenpeace Germany's findings show that the use of dangerous chemicals is at the core of the Shein ultra-fast fashion business model," said Viola Wohlgemuth, Greenpeace Germany's circular economy and toxics campaigner.


Greenpeace findings revealed very high levels of phthalates in shoes and formaldehyde in girls' baby clothes.



According to German activists, Shein's pursuit of profit favors a careless attitude towards risks to the environment and human health. As reported by the CBC, Shein, based in Nanjing, China, operates in a way that significantly violates European Union regulatory limits.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by SHEIN.COM (@sheinofficial)


The Canadian Marketplace, in turn, revealed the toxicity of a Shein children's jacket, which contained about 20 times the amount of lead.


The customer had to go to the hospital


Sarah Holcomb, a comedian from Chicago, shared a video in August of this year in which she described how she was "poisoned" by a product she purchased from Shein, namely gold flakes for nail manicures.



When applying the product to the nails, part of it got on the skin, on which it is said to have literally melted and simply absorbed. Allegedly, she has never experienced anything like this and was unable to wash off the product. When she woke up in the morning, she couldn't feel her arm up to the elbow. The video had more than 3.6 million views on Tiktok.


Twitter reacts, Shein fights back

One user wrote on Twitter: “Shein was found to have over 18 times the allotted amount of lead in his clothing. Such amounts of lead can lead to mood disorders, reduced sperm count/abnormal sperm activity and even miscarriage/miscarriage in pregnant women."




The Shein brand said in response to the tweet: "We regularly test products and take action when non-compliance is found, including terminating suppliers." But similar cases continue to recur.

Greenpeace in Germany and Canada's Marketplace are not the only ones to investigate the brand's dubious practices. The fact that the products, as well as their production itself, are dangerous for both the wearers and the producers was confirmed by the documentary of the British radio station Channel 4: Shein Machine: UNTOLD. It is he who embarks on somewhat bolder methods of investigation.


Crazy working conditions

Reporter Mei posed as a migrant garment worker in China's Guangdong province. For the first time, she managed to sneak hidden cameras into the Shein factory. Mei said in the documentary that most workers produced hundreds of items a day and could not leave until they finished their work. They had to sit hunched over a sewing machine for hours, feeling like they only had one day off a month. We probably don't need to talk about the fact that the weekend didn't exist.





Exhausted factory workers were paid a paltry basic wage, earning just £19 for an 18-hour shift. However, even this reward was reduced or completely withheld in the event that they made a mistake while sewing. According to Mei, one employee produced approximately 100 pieces of clothing in one day.

In addition to workers coming into direct contact with toxic clothing, the document also confirmed that some manufacturers in the city of Guangzhou had factories set up in residential buildings with no emergency exits and often no windows. If there happened to be windows in them, many of them were barred, which would have been a problem in the event of a fire.

According to the Telegraph, not much has changed despite previous promises to adjust the working and especially the salary conditions of the employees.


Ultra fast fashion, ultra theft

As if that wasn't enough, Shein has also become "famous" for copying designs and stealing the manufacturing processes of other brands. You can buy products that other brands sell for hundreds of euros ten times cheaper on the Shein website.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @baileyprado


In 2021, clothing designer Bailey Prado, who specializes in crochet products, accused Shein of copying at least 20 of her designs. For many other designers, Shein even copied the styling of the clothes and the creative production of the presentation.


"Fast fashion companies get away with robbing small businesses too often, and that really hurts. It hurts our small team, our ethical producers who work hard to produce high quality pieces, and it hurts the planet with overproduction, overconsumption, poor quality fabrics and harmful dyes,” Baiia Label, from which Shein allegedly copied up to 45 designs, wrote on Instagram .


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Baiia Sustainable Swim (@baiia_label)



Before Shein, the Spanish brand Zara was the most productive fast fashion brand in the world, with a production cycle of two to three weeks. However, Shein can produce and distribute a much larger quantity in less than seven days. The Chinese company reportedly adds more than 2,000 new items to its website every day, while Zara produces that amount in about 30 days. Since products do not have a long shelf life, the impact that Shein has on the environment is enormous.


Shein's success is largely attributed to its technological approach, which uses AI software to plug trends and outfits from social media directly into its factory computers.


The solution must come from outside


The rise in popularity of the Shein brand comes at a time when the world is struggling with an economic crisis after the pandemic. Despite the brand's ethical and environmental issues, many follow the path of affordable fashion, ignoring the company's negative impact on the environment and not really thinking about it.

According to Hypebeast, the news that Shein has become the most popular brand in the world is more a reflection of society and the world around us and what we are facing.



Report content. If you've found mistake or have any issues with article, please let us know.
Thumbnail: Shein, Instagram/Shein Campaign
Share Share article
Most read