What do we know about Shein and the labels in which the workers supposedly ask for help?￼
In recent days, several videos have gone viral on websites and social networks, especially on TikTok , showing clothing labels from the low-cost brand Shein in which messages asking for help can be read . These contents, for which you have asked us through our WhatsApp chatbot ( +34 644 229 319 ), are disseminated ensuring that it has been the brand’s employees who have written these help messages.
Although some of the labels that are being spread do not correspond to the brand, are old or come from image banks, others do belong to the company’s clothing. We tell you what we know.
“Need your help”: the phrase in the middle of a label that set off the alarms
In networks, many users (see example 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 ) have shared the same label in which you can read, in the middle of the washing and ironing instructions , the phrase ” need your help ” (I need your help) . , in Spanish). Also one of our damned, Daniela, has sent us a photograph of the label of a garment that she ordered last April 2 in which you can also read the supposed help message.
As we say, these labels indicate washing and ironing recommendations and the phrase “I need your help” appears on them. In all those shared on networks we read: “Wash with like colors. Wash inside out. Machine wash cold. […] Tumble dry. Do not dry clean. Due the water saving technology, need your help washing with the soft detergent at the first time to make the goods softer” .
Which translated into Spanish would be: “Wash with similar colors. Wash inside out. Machine wash cold. […] Tumble dry. Do not dry clean. Due to the water-saving technology, we need your help by washing with mild detergent the first time to make the clothes softer . “
Regarding these labels, Shein has spoken through its official TikTok accounts (both in general and in that of its Mexican delegation ) indicating that “it is poorly written” and that in it “customers are asked to help to maintain the softness of the fabric by using a milder detergent. Likewise, from Maldita.es we have contacted the Shein communication department from where they limit themselves to referring to these videos shared on their TikTok profiles.
As we have been able to verify in Maldita.es , the labeling of the garments of this Chinese company in which the washing and ironing instructions are offered has changed from last year to the present and it is in these most recent ones that the alleged calls for help.
The alleged calls for help by, in theory, Shein workers became viral after a video also published on TikTok (which currently reaches more than 100,000 “likes”) showed an alleged shipment of the Chinese brand with the word “ Help ” written by hand on the package. The video was accompanied by the caption “Shein children asking for help”. Despite the fact that Shein’s TikTok profile ensures that this “is false”, from Maldita.es we have not been able to verify it independently.
Labels that do not correspond to the Chinese company
As a result of the viralization of these alleged help messages, other photographs have been disseminated that, on the contrary, are not current or belong to the low-cost Chinese company. In one of those that have been spread stating that it belongs to Shein you can read “ I have dental pain ” (“I have tooth pain”, in Spanish). However, through a reverse image search on Bing, we verified that the photograph began to spread in 2014 on networks such as Imgur or Reddit without being related to the low-cost fashion company .
In other of the labels, which have also been linked to Shein, the word “help” is seen written in English with a red marker . The photo actually comes from the Alamy image bank and was taken in Bangladesh.
Images linked to Shein (see examples 1 and 2 ) from other labels have also been spread as if they were current . On this occasion, the labeling is from the Chinese brand Romwe , in which, likewise, you can read the message “ Help me ” (Help me, in Spanish). The photograph was shared in 2018 by a Twitter user. Although the publication is currently deleted, in the responses you can see tweets from other accounts also showing Romwe labels (with a different order date) with the phrase ” Help me “.
The PublicEye investigation that revealed the conditions of Shein workers
Despite its impact on social networks and the popularity of the brand, Shein is not transparent with its income and offers little information on its website about the company (in December 2020, a report in the Chinese media claimed that this year the company earned almost 10,000 million dollars ). In November 2021, the Public Eye organization produced a report on the working conditions of the employees of this cheap fashion textile giant. After interviews with workers and suppliers of this brand in Guangzhou , a metropolis in the south of the country where its headquarters are located, the Swiss NGO revealed that the workshops do not have emergency exitsand its windows have bars and that the employees do not have employment contracts and their hours exceed 75 hours of work per week , which violates Chinese labor laws, according to Public Eye.
Regarding the working conditions of its workers, Shein assures in the aforementioned TikTok publication that “its code of conduct is strict” and that it “prohibits suppliers from using child labor, forced labor or labor exploitation.” “We do not tolerate any type of behavior that does not respect what is ethical and lawful,” they add. In response to users who reminded them of their lack of transparency regarding the working conditions of their employees , the company has limited itself to responding as follows: “We know that we have to do more to show you who we are. We will post more content to show soon.”
In any case, Shein is not the only textile giant that has been affected by the alleged calls for help on the labels of its garments. As CNN published in 2014 and Amnesty International denounced , a client found a note with SOS messages in a pair of pants that she bought from the Primark chain , which caused the low-cost fashion company to assure that they were investigating the origin of what happened. In fact, this same photograph has now spread, linking to Shein .