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Shein denies low prices due to forced labour

The fast-fashion brand's sales rose 60% in 2021 to $16 billion worldwide, just behind high-street label H&M

A woman browses through clothes displayed at a Chinese fashion brand Shein pop-up store in Paris on 4 May (AFP)

By Team Lounge

LAST PUBLISHED 08.05.2023  |  01:33 PM IST

Fast fashion brand Shein has said its low prices are due to demand-based production and not forced or cheap labour. 

In an interview with AFP,  the Singapore-based firm's strategy chief Peter Pernot-Day said that Shein, founded in China in 2008, is "an on-demand manufacturer... the global pioneer of this technology".  


Testing products with a small run and spooling up production if there was demand meant Shein has eliminated "inventory risk", Pernot-Day said, wiping out “the most significant component of garment cost", states the AFP report.

Also read: Shein wants to focus on sustainability

Shein's sales rose 60 percent in 2021 to $16 billion worldwide, Bloomberg reported, just behind Swedish high-street name H&M. With 11,000 employees worldwide and counting, Shein has big plans for further expansion, according to the report.

"It's important to have teams that are in the countries and geographies and regions where we are doing business," Pernot-Day said.

According to the AFP report, the "localisation" strategy includes building a 40,000-square-metre (430,000 square feet) new warehouse in Poland allowing faster deliveries to the European market. "There will be more," he added.

Meanwhile, during the recent World Retail Congress in Barcelona, the brand executive vice-chair Donald Tang said that Shein is planning to become more focused on sustainability. 

According to a Reuters report, Tang said that consumers are no longer just concerned about affordability. "Consumers these days are no longer looking just at price," Tang said. "In the next phase of growth we need to think everything we do with ESG in mind." ESG, an acronym for environmental, social, and governance, is a term used to describe corporations' efforts to be more responsible. Shein sells $10 dresses and $5 tops and has taken market share from other affordable fashion retailers, states the Reuters report.


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Tang said that Shein, through its evoluSHEIN line, is offering customers an option to pick more sustainable materials and pay a premium for them. EvoluSHEIN items are partly made with recycled polyester, states the Reuters report. He also mentioned Shein Exchange, the company's platform where shoppers can resell used clothes, which launched in the US in October and aims to start in other markets this year, it adds.

"These are the things we are doing but that is obviously not enough; we have to do a lot more, a lot more research," Tang said.

Also read: Shein will spend $15 million to clean up its act