Shein: Documentary Controversy

By Nell Richmond-Tanner

Yesterday, Channel 4 aired a documentary uncovering the highly unethical working standards in Shein’s factories. We knew it was bad, but this exposé, using film from an undercover worker named Mei, has revealed quite how dire this situation is. The fast-fashion retailer has responded to the documentary, expressing concerns over the working conditions in their factories. 

The Channel 4 documentary, ‘Inside the Shein Machine: UNTOLD’, revealed that workers are required to work 18 hours each day and that they are paid only 3p per item of clothing. 

Mei found clear evidence of “exploitative working conditions” during her time at the factories. The programme exposed that, alongside the 18-hour days, employees have one day off a month and lose a proportion of wages for mistakes in the garments.

Using footage from hidden cameras, viewers could see women washing their hair on their lunch break, having no time to do it at home. 

Shein responded to the claims, advising that they would terminate any contract with suppliers that breach their Code of Conduct. 

This documentary aired at a good time as many of us have begun to wake up to the devastating impact of buying into fast fashion on the environment and the workers they employ.

The industry writ large has received an onslaught of bad press for highly unethical working conditions as well it’s devastating impact on the environment. There is hope that Channel 4’s investigation, which has been making waves on social media, will further discourage consumers from opting to buy from Shein and other fast-fashion giants. 

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