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October 18, 2022updated 03 Nov 2022 2:41pm

Shein pilots fashion resale platform amid documentary controversy

Shein Exchange has been launched with the goal to meet community demand by providing a one-stop destination for customers to become active participants in circularity and promote the benefits of purchasing pre-owned clothing over new items.

By Shemona Safaya

The fast-fashion online retailer Shein is the latest brand to move towards a circular fashion model with the launch of its recent platform Shein Exchange. It is an integrated online peer-to-peer resale destination to buy and sell previously owned products.

The new feature is currently available to all US customers with plans to expand to other global markets next year. Shein Exchange was created in partnership with Treet, a resale technology platform creating circular fashion experiences for a number of fashion retailers.

The pilot version of Shein Exchange in the US is part of Shein’s larger commitment to address the ongoing issues of textile waste and build a future of fashion that is more circular. By driving its community to buy or resell on Shein Exchange, the brand aims to influence and promote mindful consumption among its customers, ultimately extending the life of as many items as possible.

Last month, the fast-fashion brand committed to reducing supply chain emissions by embedding Science-Based Targets as part of its sustainability management. Adam Whinston, global head of ESG at Shein, said in statement that the brand’s goal is to make resale “just as easy and convenient as buying something brand new” along with setting a cultural movement around circularity in motion with Shein’s own community.

He added: “At Shein, we believe that it is our responsibility to build a future of fashion that is equitable for all, while also accelerating solutions to reduce textile waste. We’re calling on our community to mobilize and keep previously owned clothing in circulation for as long as possible. By harnessing the reach and the influence of our growing community, we believe that shopping resale can become the new normal in our industry.”

The launch of the platform is said to have been inspired by Shein’s community of customers who communicated an interest in resale destinations where they could buy and sell previously owned Shein products without the barrier of high platform fees that is usually required. With this new feature, the customer has to just login the Shein app and the interface will pre-populate their previous purchases – making list-to-sale quick and easy.

This year, Shein also became a signatory of World Circular Textiles Day, a coalition of brands, suppliers and other organizations who share a mission to shift the fashion and textiles industry toward full circularity by 2050.

The announcement follows the recent Channel 4 documentary that aired on the broadcaster’s website last night. It highlights the Chinese fast-fashion brand’s success story, with allegations being made on the violation of work ethics and human rights.

Based on the claims made in the documentary, Shein’s garment workers were being paid as little as three pence per garment through 18-hour shifts.

When Just Style requested Shein for a comment on this matter, the fast-fashion brand said: “We are extremely concerned by the claims presented by Channel 4, which would violate the Code of Conduct agreed to by every supplier of the brand. Any non-compliance with this code is dealt with swiftly, and we will terminate partnerships that do not meet our standards.

“Shein’s Responsible Sourcing standards hold our manufacturing suppliers to a code of conduct based on International Labour Organization conventions and local laws and regulations governing labour practices and working conditions. We work with leading independent agencies like TUV, SGS, OpenView and Intertek to conduct unannounced audits at supplier facilities.”

Shein added the company has requested specific information from Channel 4 to investigate further.

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