SHEIN: Ethical Cost of Ultra-fast Fashion

SHEIN: Ethical Cost of Ultra-fast Fashion
Case Code: CSRS013
Case Length: 17 Pages
Period: 2022
Pub Date: 2023
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: SHEIN
Industry: Retailing
Countries: China
Themes: Business Ethics, Ethics in Business,Ethics in Business
SHEIN: Ethical Cost of Ultra-fast Fashion
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


SHEIN, a Chinese online retailer of apparel and accessories, had taken the world of ultra-fast fashion by storm with its low cost products. Even though the price of products from SHEIN was very low as compared to other ultra-fast fashion brands, the designs always followed the latest trends in the fashion industry. The love for SHEIN products was spread all over the social media by its host of fashion influencers.

But behind the sheen of its trendy clothes lay an ugly story replete with unethical practices. The case details how SHEIN flouted labor laws with impunity in its supply chain. The working conditions were abysmal in the workshops where SHEIN products were manufactured. The workers had no access to the basic safety and environmental benefits that a workplace should provide. These working conditions were against the Chinese labor laws but the workers could not complain as they were working without any formal contract with the workshops.

SHEIN was also very secretive when it came to producing data about its supply chain. For the same reason, SHEIN was in the lowest level grades of the Fashion Transparency Index. SHEIN was also criticized for culturally insensitive products, and for plagiarizing pictures and designs.

In spite of following unethical practices, SHEIN was a winner in the ultra-fast fashion segment. People seemed to turn a blind eye to the unethical practices of the company. After multiple complaints, SHEIN did an audit of its supply chain and drew up a code of conduct for its suppliers. It would be interesting to see if the company keeps its word and eliminates unethical practices from its supply chain.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • To understand the dynamics of fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion
  • To analyse modern slavery in fast fashion
  • To examine unethical business practices in fast fashion



SHEIN; Modern Slavery; Unethical business; Labor Laws, Ultra-Fast Fashion; Employee Safety; Plagiarism; Transparency; Business Ethics, Supply Chain ethics; business model

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