If you haven’t been exposed to the horrors of Shein before now, I envy you. This destructive fast fashion company can be defined as a human rights violation that simultaneously pollutes our oceans and destroys our atmosphere. Let us celebrate the newest petition against Shein that has recently emerged from France.

Credit: Business of Fashion

Launched on June 7th, French centre-left political party, Place Publique, began the “Stop Shein” petition. The campaign calls upon French Minister of the Economy, Mr Bruno Le Maire, to combat “cultural obsolescence” by delisting or blocking websites of companies that put out more than 1000 new pieces everyday. Shein is reported to release up to 8000 new pieces everyday. How is that even possible?

SPOILER ALERT: Its the unethical operating standards that pay their workers close to nothing! At least that top was cheap though right? It definitely won’t be considered ugly and never worn again in a month or two! That is if it doesn’t disintegrate after three washes.

The petition, which member of the European parliament Raphaël Glucksmann openly backs, states that “overconsumption extolled by Shein is a weapon of mass climate destruction”. With almost 11 thousand signatures in less than 48 hours, it shows promise of eventual political recognition – at least in France. Currently, the petition sits at 31,403 signatures, including my own. After reaching the 30k mark this week, Place Publique aims to hit 50k next. For more information visit www.stopshein.place-publique.eu.

With it’s unashamedly cheap items and clothing, and aggressive social media presence, it’s hard to imagine a world where young influential minds aren’t mesmerised by the idea. Who wouldn’t want an entire outfit for the price of less than an hour of minimum wage’s work? Unfortunately, the company hides it’s harsh reality all too well. Shein’s representatives state their “zero-tolerance policy on forced labour”, however, their actions seem to say otherwise.

Shein’s ethical issues

According to multiple NGO’s and media outlet investigations, Shein uses Uyghur slave labor fabric production. Claiming that their 98% ethical production should be rewarded instead of the 2% of human exploits. Shein is forcing its workers to toil at an infernal pace without rights or contracts. As a result, the petition reads, “Shein represents an industry that disregards human rights, violates social rights, and harms the environment.”

On a similar note, we should also further acknowledge the detrimental effects of the fast fashion culture Shein promotes. They create a huge environmental toll with the thousands of new, largely plastic, clothes they add to the market everyday. The synthetic clothing contaminates oceans and landfills with microplastic fibres that take decades to break down, if ever. Place Publique’s campaign argues that the encouraged overconsumption contributes to the obvious climate destruction. 

“If we allow this model to thrive, the fashion industry’s carbon footprint, which currently accounts for 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, could skyrocket to 26 percent by 2050,” says Place Publique in their letter to the minister

We’ve seen campaigns and protests come and go over the years, with little to no success in regards to stopping Shein. Launching earlier this year in the US, the advocacy group “Shut Down Shein” asked the Securities and Exchange commission to verify whether or not Shein used forced labour before allowing the company to list on the US Stock Exchange. Time and time again, Shein presents nothing but denial and “evidence” proving their innocence.

Influencer Culture

On top of the initial allure of cheap clothing and knick knacks, social media’s influencer culture is one of the many reasons to blame on Shein’s success. The pressure to perform a certain lifestyle is more prevalent than ever. With influencers showing off new designer and luxury pieces every chance they get, there’s become an expectation to follow suit. Shein offers the everyday person luxury dupes that are mostly believable and cheap copies of small business designs.

I can’t wait to see how Place Publique’s petition progresses. We can only hope something comes out of it.

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