Working conditions at Chinese fast-fashion giant Shein are under scrutiny after an investigation found evidence that people in its supply chain are working 18-hour days for as little as 3p an hour.


Channel 4’s investigation found that Shein appears to be aware of practices in its supply chain

The allegations against Shein and its treatment of the workers supplying them are being made public in the investigative documentary Untold: Inside the Shein Machine, which airs tonight on Channel 4. 

The documentary found that some workers in Shein’s supply chain earn a maximum of £500 per month to produce 500 items of clothing per day, while others do not even receive a basic salary and are paid 0.27 yuan (3p) per garment produced.

Staff can also have daily salaries slashed by as much as half for making mistakes, have no weekends off and are allowed one solitary rest day a month. 

The investigation also reveals that Shein appears to be aware of the shoddy practices in its supply chain, with 83% of the 700 suppliers it audited in 2021 receiving a mediocre or poor performance.

Shein is the largest fast-fashion company in the world, having been valued at more than £100bn in April of 2022, and is famous for selling new designs at prices as low as £1. 

These prices have seen it snap up 16% of the fast-fashion market since 2019, putting added pressure on competitors. 

“It’s a scramble to the bottom,” Iman Amrani, the documentary’s presenter, told the i newspaper, with whom she shared an exclusive preview of the documentary.

“If somebody cuts a little bit more off the price or the cost to make something, they are beating you.

“Every one of them is competing with each other, regardless of where their factories are or where their business is based.”

A Shein spokesperson said: “We are extremely concerned by the claims presented by Channel 4, which would violate the code of conduct agreed to by every Shein supplier.

“Any non-compliance with this code is dealt with swiftly and we will terminate partnerships that do not meet our standards.

“We have requested specific information from Channel 4 so that we can investigate.”

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