Online shopping behemoth Shein will spend $15 million on upgrades to its suppliers’ factories, the company announced today. The news follows a UK documentary report that found workers were subject to long hours and that wages were withheld, according to The Guardian.
Shein says that, through an independent audit, it discovered that workers at two factories in China were working 12.5- and 13.5-hour-long days — more than is legally permitted by local law. While it’s “significantly less than claimed in the documentary,” the e-commerce giant is giving factories until the end of the year to correct the problem, Shein says.
The company denied reports that wages were withheld from workers.
The $15 million will be spent over the next three to four years, according to the company, and will cover “physical enhancements” to supplier factories. Shein says it will also increase the frequency of unannounced spot checks and bolster trainings for factories to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Shein didn’t specify what kind of improvements would be made or how they would benefit workers at factories.
Shein’s unending stream of quick-turnaround product releases and bargain bin prices catapulted the company to a $100 billion valuation earlier this year, though that has likely dropped since. The company is one of several online retailers that took fast fashion and put it into overdrive, making clothing and accessories faster and cheaper than brands like Zara or H&M. Shein hauls — unboxing and try-on videos of hundreds of dollars worth of product — are a mainstay on platforms like TikTok despite reports of labor violations, design theft, and the environmental impact of purchasing from the company.