SHEIN’s recent manipulative influencer trip is one of the worst rebranding attempts we’ve ever seen

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Updated Jun 27, 2023 at 11:57 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

46090

A group of prominent influencers is facing widespread criticism after posting extensive positive reviews about one of SHEIN’s factories during a recent sponsored trip to Guangzhou, China—the city where SHEIN is headquartered and where many of its suppliers are located. Despite the clothing giant’s long history of labour rights violations, it seems as though creators are still lining up to sample a slice of fast fashion live in action.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by 𝑫𝑨𝑵𝑰 𝑫𝑴𝑪 (@danidmc)

This recent influencer trip sheds light on SHEIN’s attempt to rebrand itself, and raises concerns about the visit being nothing more than a manipulative marketing ploy to deceive consumers into believing that the company has changed its ways. Yeah, right.

One of the most popular influencers who went on the trip is model and confidence activist Dani Carbonari. In a post and video tour shared on social media, Carbonari expressed excitement and admiration for the working conditions she witnessed. Her glowing review depicted a clean and well-lit factory, creating an impression of favourable practices.

Carbonari wrote: “I’m so grateful for @doraisclassic who answered all of my million questions and taught me so much about her country and Shein. I feel more confident than ever with my partnership with @shein_us. There are so many companies not taking half the initiative Shein is. They are aware of every single rumor and instead of staying quiet they are fighting with all of their power to not only show us the truth but continue to improve and be the best they can possibly be.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by 𝑫𝑨𝑵𝑰 𝑫𝑴𝑪 (@danidmc)

A number of netizens online felt that Carbonari failed to address SHEIN’s well-documented history of poor working conditions and labour rights violations. Despite the seriousness of these issues, her review appeared dismissive and undermined the concerns of workers who have experienced exploitation within the company’s supply chain.

Carbonari was not the only influencer taken on the SHEIN-sponsored trip. Other creators also posted similar content, using language that mirrored each other’s sentiments. This coordinated effort raises questions about the authenticity of their reviews and suggests a calculated attempt by SHEIN to control the narrative surrounding its practices.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by SHEIN.COM (@sheinofficial)

SHEIN’s blatant disregard for working conditions has been extensively documented. A 2021 investigation by watchdog group Public Eye revealed unsafe working conditions in 17 SHEIN supplier factories. Employees reported working up to 75 hours per week with only one day off each month, in violation of labour laws. SHEIN was also exposed for falsely claiming safe labour practices on its website and faced criticism for exploiting workers in its factories, paying them as little as $0.02 per item produced.

SHEIN has also been implicated in environmental issues, particularly in regard to the fast fashion industry’s unsustainable production practices and how they contribute to pollution and waste. Furthermore, a 2022 Bloomberg report revealed that SHEIN sourced cotton from China’s Xinjiang region, where human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority have been extensively documented. The use of cotton from this region raised further ethical concerns.

Following this case, Iman Amrani, the host of Channel 4’s documentary Inside the SHEIN Machine: Untold, publicly called out Carbonari for defending SHEIN’s practices. Amrani highlighted that the undercover investigation provided concrete evidence of labour law violations and criticised Carbonari for allowing herself to be used as a defence for these practices. This documentary, along with other reports, presents a more reliable view of SHEIN’s practices.

SHEIN’s influencer trip may have been an attempt to rebrand itself and distance itself from its tainted reputation, but the public response indicates that consumers are no longer easily swayed by elaborate marketing ploys. While the trip may have momentarily diverted attention from the company’s labour and environmental issues, it ultimately serves as a stark reminder of the need for genuine accountability in the fashion industry. Consumers and influencers alike must remain vigilant in supporting brands that prioritise ethics, sustainability, and worker welfare to bring about meaningful change in the industry.

While it is important to acknowledge the role of influencers in promoting ethical practices, the issue surrounding SHEIN’s labour abuses goes deeper than individual endorsements. Influencers themselves have become merchandise, reduced to digital personas driving online purchases. However, to truly combat the problem, we must shift our focus to the real villains behind the brand: the owners and capitalist forces that enable their continual flouting of laws.

By raising awareness about these monopolistic practices, lobbying for stronger regulations, and supporting alternative ethically-driven brands, we can strive towards meaningful change in the fashion industry.

Keep On Reading

By Alma Fabiani

Brands complicit in sourcing from China Uighur Muslims forced labour factories urged to stop

By Louis Shankar

The leaked China Cables reveal how China detains Uighur Muslims in camps to brainwash them

By Jack Ramage

The age of loud quitting and why everyone’s filming themselves getting fired or resigning on TikTok

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Oat milk vs almond milk: the ultimate showdown

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Tom Holland has ultimate rizz, Zendaya just confirmed it

By Charlie Sawyer

Are UK-based citizens actually going to be forced into mandatory conscription?

By Charlie Sawyer

Tucker Carlson pranked by YouTuber pretending to be Kate Middleton whistleblower 

By Charlie Sawyer

Will the TikTok ban push Gen Z into the arms of Donald Trump?

By Charlie Sawyer

Has hen do culture gone mad? TikTokers say bridal group chats give them financial anxiety

By Charlie Sawyer

Vivek Ramaswamy is on a mission to turn BuzzFeed into a millennial conservative mouthpiece

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

AI-generated images of Donald Trump with Black voters spread before US presidential election

By Abby Amoakuh

Looking for a man in finance? Good luck, you might need to get in line with the TikTok girlies

By Charlie Sawyer

How much are the Love Island All Stars contestants getting paid?

By Abby Amoakuh

Woman sues her boyfriend after he decides not to take her to the airport

By Charlie Sawyer

Texas’ far-right political movement is on the rise, now wanting to introduce death penalty for abortion patients

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Mom breaks into school and brutally assaults daughter’s teacher in front of 25 children

By Malavika Pradeep

Long Furby trend: Why these elongated toys are going viral

By Jack Ramage

Findom explained: Understanding financial domination in relationships

By Charlie Sawyer

Mental health patients raped and sexually assaulted, new shocking NHS abuse scandal reveals

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

The internet is convinced that Kate Middleton just had a BBL