SHEIN Did the Whole ‘Influencer Trip’ Thing. It Made Everything Worse.
The content was unbelievable. In the way that… no one believed it.
The fashion giant’s deplorable working conditions have been documented at length, with issues ranging from 16-hour work days, one off-day per month, a mere $572 monthly salary, and so on. Aside from the working conditions, which cost SHEIN about $15 million to remedy, the site blatantly copies emerging designers and omits about 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide according to Time.
This hasn’t stopped SHEIN from purporting as a design-led, trendy shopping platform, sponsoring #SHEINHauls and instituting a point system for customers to submit reviews to earn free stuff.
Falling in line with brands like Dior, NARS, and Tarte, SHEIN decided to put its own spin on the “influencer trip.” Instead of flying out a group of social media stars and spoiling them with coveted experiences and heaps of merch, they invited big names on IG and TikTok to view their facilities and experience Chinese culture.
Spoiler alert: It backfired.
Despite SHEIN’s best efforts, the trip came off as orchestrated, staged, and tone-deaf. Unfortunately, a lot of the heat is being applied to the influencers who chose to attend, specifically Dani Carbonari — a confidence activist and body-positive personality.
Dani’s content from the SHEIN trip showed a behind-the-scenes look at the factory and a tour inside SHEIN’s 600,000 square ft “Innovation Center” where most of the company’s design tech is housed. She also claims to have interviewed a woman in the fabric-cutting sector who spoke positively about her commute and working conditions.
“I think my biggest takeaway from this trip is to be an independent thinker, get the facts, and see things with your own two eyes, “ she remarks in a TikTok recap. “There’s a narrative fed to us in the U.S. and I’m one that always likes to be open-minded and seek the truth, so I’m grateful for that about myself.”
Critics were quick to accuse the featured facilities as phony and add that since SHEIN relies mostly on third-party manufacturers, one tour could in no way encapsulate SHEIN’s massive network.
Neither Dani’s SHEIN content nor the apologetic videos that followed made her deserving of the online abuse she has suffered, but SHEIN has a long way to go to prove its ethical position — if they actually have one.