We spoke to a rep to find out more about what sounds a lot like eco-washing.
More of us are starting to realize that fast fashion brands make giant profits from unsavory labor practices as they produce actual mountains of trash around the world. Chinese clothing and accessories company, SHEIN, is one of the most notorious and popular fast fashion offenders. They recently announced a new line of “purpose-driven” clothing that promises to help consumers invest in people and the planet.
The line, called EvoluSHEIN, will feature recycled polyester called rPet. The material is produced from plastic bottles, which are cleaned, melted down, and then spun into fiber used to make clothing. Look, rPet sounds cool and definitely better for the environment than making new polyester, but SHEIN has always claimed to use this recycled material. “SHEIN is proud to have incorporated rPET and other preferred materials across its full range of products,” a representative for SHEIN tells Mic. Presumably that means they will be using more rPet than they have in the past, at least for the EvoluSHEIN line.
The company also announced that shoppers of the line can say they are supporting Vital Voices, an international non-profit that invests in women leaders, according to the press release. “In 2021, SHEIN announced a two-year, $500,000 donation to Vital Voices,” a representative of the brand tells Mic. “By shopping the evoluSHEIN collection, customers will generate additional funding for Vital Voices and the female entrepreneurs and leaders they support around the world.”
That’s noble, but I’m not sure it really balances the scales for the women (and others) who are reportedly harmed in the making and marketing of SHEIN. After all, $500k isn’t that much to a company worth $100 billion.
"We are committed to building a more responsible fashion ecosystem," said Adam Whinston, global head of environmental, social, and governance at SHEIN, in the company’s announcement. "Launching evoluSHEIN is one important step in our sustainability commitments this year.”
The company rep also says that they’re committed to fair labor practices. “We expect all our suppliers to strictly comply with SHEIN’s Code of Conduct—a code that is consistent with standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO), local labor laws, and other global brands,” a representative for SHEIN tells Mic. Hopefully that means no more 75-hour work weeks that have reported for the people in SHEIN factories.
I really hope this line of 170 new products (all priced under $19 — how?) can make up for some of the giant mess SHEIN is making of the planet ripping off the designs of small designers, but given that SHEIN is notorious for their lack of transparency, I’ll believe it when I see it.