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Influencers face backlash for praising Shein’s factory working conditions after abuse allegations

Shein, a fast fashion retailer founded in Nanjing, China, initially gained popularity in 2019, and its fame has only been increasing since. Like most fast fashion brands, Shein gained popularity for their affordable prices and decent quality of products. Whether it’s clothes, shoes, or  jewelry, Shein produces goods that people love at a very reasonable price.

After the company gained some serious popularity, Shein quickly went from hero to zero when it received numerous forced labor abuse allegations. In additon, they have also received allegations for human rights violations and potentially using harmful material in their clothing. For years, these charges went unanswered, until Shein decided to invite influencers on a brand trip.

A group of American influencers were invited to go on a sponsored trip to Guangzhou, China, where many of Shein’s manufacturing facilities are located. Influencers took pictures, videos, and made comments about the factories. In their videos, the influencers said they spoke to employees about their working conditions and were told everything was “normal.” They also emphasized how clean and technologically-advanced the factories were.

Observers found the videos unsettling and unconvincing, believing the creators were presented with a fake and sanitized version of the actual conditions at Shein.

“They only invited people with zero critical thinking,” one critic posted on Twitter. 

Others attacked the group, which was mainly made up of plus-sized people and people of color, for promoting Shein’s “propaganda.”

This outrage could not come at a worse moment for Shein, as the company is rumored to be planning a U.S. debut this year. However, for many who have observed Shein’s rapid growth over time, this incident merely adds to the company’s extensive history of abuse claims.

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