Shein, babe, no one believes you or your influencer trip

Shein, babe, no one believes you or your influencer trip

by Juliette Eleuterio
5 min
@shein_us ©

If you’ve been on fashion TikTok in the past 24 hours, you’ve probably seen that Shein’s influencer trip has become the butt of the joke, with everyone bashing the corporation in its misinformed and straight up wrong efforts to cleanse its already tarnished reputation.

@ideservecouture SHEIN script was scripting so much that I had to embody the SHEIN producer role! This SHEIN influencer trip has to be an very early April Fools joke #shein #influencertrip #fastfashion #fashiontiktok ♬ original sound – ideservecouture

Does Shein even need an introduction? We’ve all seen its Instagram ads promoting its thousands and thousands of fast-fashion produced pieces, with a reported number of over 6,000 of new products adding to its website everyday. There in lies a huge problem already, as fast fashion is inherently unethical, unable to sustain itself without a detrimental impact on the environment and more than a few human rights violations. 

To quickly recap, here is what Shein has been accused of by actual investigative journalists: violating labour rights, including sweatshop-like working conditions, a reported 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, and a lack of transparency on labour conditions that is legally required to prove that it is not violating any modern slavery laws. Essentially, Shein is bad news. 

@shein_us ©

While it’s no surprise such a giant of fast fashion has received such horrendous claims, being exposed for what it is, it isn’t enough to stop Shein. Instead of, say (wild take here be ready) revisit its labour practices and ensure they are both lawful and ethical, as well as chill down on the CO2 emissions, Shein has come up with an even better solution: inviting influencers to its “innovation factory” in Guangzhou, China to showcase to everyone that all is fine and dandy, completely within the confines of the law, at Shein.

@shein_us Get a glimpse of the process of how your purchases are packaged directly from our facility and delivered to your doorstep. Watch as our partners discover the cutting-edge tech that streamlines our operations and receive a hands-on experience in packaging. Stay tuned to the #SHEIN101 series to learn more of what goes on behind the scenes at #SHEIN #SHEINOnTheRoad ♬ original sound – SHEINUS

Obviously, that’s all bullsh*t. The campaign is just as harmful as it is infuriating and no one is buying it. Influencer Dani Carbonari, best known online as @itsdanidmc, was invited to this so called “innovation factory” who said she was “excited and impressed to see the working conditions” in a now-deleted video. She also claims she spoke to a Shein employee who told her  “She was very surprised at all the rumours that have been spread in the U.S.”.

@offtrendhq Let’s hope this is the last Shein influencer trip 🤞 #shein #sheininfluencer #sheininfluencertrip #danidmc ♬ original sound – offtrend

Dani wasn’t the only influencer who was invited to visit the factory. Destene Sudduth also joined the trip, and in one of her videos, Destene explains that employees were “confused and taken back with the child labour questions” and responded with “our kids want to be on social media just like y’all. They’re not working in factories” to the allegations.

@itsdestene_ Replying to @Melanin 👸🏿 Codi👑 im thoroughly enjoying this experience and seeing things with my own eyes 🫶🏾 @SHEINUS #SHEIN101 #SHEINOnTheRoad #desteneandbrandon ♬ original sound – Destene and Brandon

These influencers have been feeding us a narrative in which employees working for Shein have an 8AM to 6PM, even though investigations, notably one produced by Channel 4, have shown otherwise. Destene ended her video by saying “They weren’t even sweating. We were the ones sweating walking through the whole facility”. Talk about not being able to read the room.

Listen, influencers have been known to do some pretty wild sh*t for a cheque, but this “influencer trip” really takes the cake. The issue on whether or not these influencers were paid to go on this trip is ongoing – Dani explained in a (again, now-deleted) video responding to the backlash she’s received that “I was not paid for any trip or to say anything” but also admitted in May that she had signed a deal with Shein with the aim of “debunking a lot of these rumours” and that the fast fashion brand “have definitely not underpaid me” – regardless, these videos were clearly scripted by Shein itself.

@the_rogue_essentials #sheinontheroad #shein101 #sheincares [NOT] 🫠 It’s not just Shein, the fast retailing model as a whole has to change, but we might as well start with the biggest player. Especially by not allowing them to be publicly traded (sorry PE doesnt have a great track record of righting human rights violations, especially when profit is at stake). I often find that blame is thrown around the fast fashion eco system (yes. this includes luxury houses as well) like a hot potato when in reality all participants are to blame in some way, shape or form (yes. that includes me and you because at this point it is an unescapable system – we can only mitigate our levels of participation, not opt out completely). It feels like we are so close to turning the corner. Stay relentless. #slowfashiontiktok #deinfluenced ♬ original sound – The Rogue Essentials

Influencers have become a source of media on their own relatively quickly, and aren’t monitored as closely as traditional media, with laws in place to prevent the spread of misinformation. That’s not to say traditional media is always right and should always be held at a higher value than social media persons, but when influencers, such as Dani herself, call themselves an “investigative journalist” when they have no credentials and were more than likely paid by the brand to investigate said-brand, it’s not exactly trustworthy information, and it is definitely not investigative journalism. So much for being an “independent thinker”, right.

As much as Shein tried to cover its tracks by having influencers come to just one of its many, many factories – mind you, The Times reports the brand uses over 6,000, and we’re sure Shein execs are checking up on these sites on the daily. This influencer-led “investigation” was just a gross gloss-over scheme that simply just doesn’t hold up.

@nohroe15 They need help. #stopfastfashion #boycott #fypシ #fyp ♬ Originalton – ᥫ᭡

Acting as if serious damage isn’t being done here, and on the daily by Shein is straight up irresponsible. I mean, workers were literally sewing “need help” into tags and writing “SOS” on notes slipped inside the shipped packages. That basically gives you a pretty grim but true picture of what really goes on in Shein factories.

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