Greenpeace has conducted research on the Chinese fashion company SHEIN that identifies high levels of hazardous chemicals which break European Union regulations by up to 100% or more. Some 47 products were randomly tested and 7 (15%) were found to have contained hazardous chemicals that break EU regulatory limits. 5 were found to break the EU limits by 100% or more.
The products are purchased online from Germany, Austria, Spain Italy, and Switzerland. They were also purchased from a pop-up store in Munich, Germany. All the products tested included children’s clothes and shoes. All the garments were sent to an independent laboratory BUI for chemical analysis.
SHEIN is at the forefront of ultra-fast fashion which has environmentalists up in arms. There are many reasons too, including the short life span of their products, ultra-low pay to Chinese workers, and now clear breaches of EU health regulations. Established fashion designers like Prado have also been vocal about intellectual property theft.
BUIs findings included very high levels of phthalates in shoes and formaldehyde in a baby girl’s dress indicate at the very least SHEIN is not regulating its product production.
SHEIN targets TikTok users.
Rebecca Morter, founder of the sustainable e-commerce site Lone Design Club recently said in an interview with Glossy,
“The worry with what Shein is doing — especially with their target audience of Gen-Zers* — is that it is making them think that it’s OK to pay next to nothing for an item of clothing, when the only way to have reached that price would mean exploiting people along the supply chain, from the makers to the designers,”
* Gen-Z (people born between the mid-to-late 1990s and 2012).
The Supply Chain.
SHEIN’s business model relies on products being produced and delivered almost instantly. The fast fashion style forces suppliers to deliver at breakneck speed which in turn makes things very hard for regulators.
Earlier this month SHEIN announced the opening of a 170,000 sq ft. Warehouse and Office in Greater Toronto Area. The company is set to keep expanding and if regulators don’t start looking into this soon there could be really bad ramifications.
Greenpeace’s point of view.
Viola Wohlgemuth, Greenpeace Overconsumption & toxics Campaigner in Germany said,
“Greenpeace is calling for the EU to enforce its laws on hazardous chemicals – which are a basic requirement for achieving a circular textiles economy and the end of fast fashion, as set out in the EU’s own Textiles Strategy.”
“But the EU’s proposals also need to take on the inhuman system of exploitation and destruction by ultra fast fashion that should have no place in any industry in the 21st century, by holding companies fully responsible for environmental and social exploitation in their supply chains and the impacts from fashion waste. This also needs to be urgently addressed through a global treaty, similar to the recently agreed UNEA plastics treaty that is currently being discussed, to finally tackle the giant fashion footprint.”
SHEIN’s business model needs investigating by the authorities soon rather than later. If their business model is putting people at risk of exposure to dangerous levels of toxins then the public has a right to know. Parents should do some research and make sure their kids are not put at risk because of new fashion trends.