'TikTok Videos': Are Shein Workers Sending SOS Messages?

Published July 3rd, 2022 - 06:17 GMT
Shein need help
TikTok users shared several videos of Shein products with "need your help" messages. (Shutterstock: Koshiro K)
Shein has been achieving major success for years, outdoing global leaders in the fast-fashion industry.

For nearly a month now, many TikTok users have shared videos of their latest Shein purchases, expressing "shock" over messages they found within tags, which suggest that workers at the Chinese fast-fashion empire "need help". 

According to TikTok users, many of the products they purchased from China-based Shein included tags with "need your help" messages, which has since been linked to fears of human rights violations or abuse that thousands of Shein workers may be subject to.

@contouringmylife Saw one too many of these tiktoks so i had to check :( #shein #needyourhelp ♬ Sad - MusicoterapiaTeam

Those videos follow several reports suspecting illegal practices by the Chinese e-commerce giant, including unconfirmed reports of child labor and poor working conditions.

Many of these reports have been based on the lack of transparency by Shein, in terms of the number of its employees, their ages, or their hourly rates. 

@michaela.dejesus My boyfriend’s little cousin ordered clothes from SHEIN @SHEIN and mutiple tags include “need your help” and “please help me” this is absolutely not normal and definitely confirms the allegations of child labor, tr@ffiçking, r&p3, and multiple forms of @bu$e. This isnt the first time this has happened either, people have recieved shein packages with actual hand written notes asking for help. #BOYCOTTSHEIN #BOYCOTTSHEINKIDS #SHEINABUSE ♬ original sound - Michaela

A 2021 probe by the Swiss advocacy group Public Eye also concluded that some workers in Shein factories, including its headquarters in Guangzhou, are suffering unbearable conditions and are constantly pressured to produce massive amounts of clothes, that sometimes they work up to 75 hours a week, violating Chinese labor laws.

Yet, it has been hard to verify the validity of tags claimed to include "need your help" messages. 

In an attempt to debunk these claims, Shein took to TikTok and posted a video to deny those claims, deeming them as "false reports" and stating "taking Shein's code of conduct seriously". 

These claims come at a time sales by Shein are soaring to exceed sales by other leading fast-fashion names, such as Zara and H&M.

In April 2022, Shein announced holding the largest U.S. fast fashion market share at $100 billion and its app was the most downloaded in US app stores in May 2021, surpassing Amazon.

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