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SHEIN flotation would be 'badge of shame' for London Stock Exchange

Reacting to the prospective flotation of the ultra-fast fashion clothing manufacturer SHEIN on the London Stock Exchange, Dominique Muller, Amnesty International Researcher specialising in the garment industry, said: 

“It’s deeply troubling that a company with questionable labour and human rights standards and an unsustainable fast fashion business model could be set to reap hundreds of millions of pounds via a sale of shares and a listing on the London Stock Exchange.

“Where SHEIN goes, others will try to follow. The UK authorities and the London Stock Exchange should not facilitate SHEIN’s listing until transparent and binding safeguards regarding internationally accepted human rights standards covering its entire supply chain are agreed and applied, and any abuses identified fully remedied.

“Rewarding SHEIN’s current methods via a flotation would be a badge of shame for the London Stock Exchange, the bankers helping bring it to market, and any investors set to profit from it. It would be an appalling example of a process which delivers for the rich by squeezing the poor. It validates the view that it is acceptable to regard workers and their rights, company products and the environment as expendable – which cheapens us all.

“It is essential the new UK government does not allow a race to the bottom in terms of corporate and human rights standards. It should require companies to prevent serious environmental harms and human rights abuses occurring throughout their entire operations and supply chains. It should enable workers whose rights are abused by company activities anywhere in the world recourse to justice through UK courts.”

A broken business model 

SHEIN’s model involves subcontracting the manufacturing of garments down a chain of smaller producers in China - with little transparency and accountability for the pay or conditions endured by workers - and where there is no legal right to assembly or to unionise. All too often people making garments for ultra-fast fashion companies are treated as a cost to be minimised so the garments they produce can be sold at cut-throat prices.  

 Many of SHEIN’s garments are made from synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels, which is environmentally damaging and unsustainable. Much of this fast fashion rapidly ends up being dumped in landfills, often polluting communities in the Global South

 SHEIN says it uses independent auditors to assess pay and conditions at its sub-contractors, but it does not publish any details of its suppliers and cannot explain how it remediates abuses suffered by workers when they are found to have occurred. There is a lack of public disclosure and transparency around the sourcing and traceability of raw materials used by contractors in SHEIN’s supply chain. 

 SHEIN, founded in China but now headquartered in Singapore, had reportedly filed documents with the UK market’s regulator ahead of a potential London listing. SHEIN has faced accusations that workers in its supply chain have received less than 4 US cents per garment produced, as well the use of cotton harvested by forced labour.  

SHEIN executives recently met with Amnesty representatives and subsequently responded in writing to a series of human rights related questions, including providing some details of its supplier auditing and garment recycling schemes, and its Supplier Community Empowerment Programme. 

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