For Shein and other fast fashion offenders, ESG-washing is not the answer

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

If reports are to be believed, Chinese fast-fashion behemoth Shein is trying to make amends, shifting its image to justify a steadily dropping $100 billion valuation ahead of an ambitious IPO in 2024. It’s got a lot of work to do. While the company controls most of the category at 28 percent, racking in $15.7 billion in sales 2021, it’s also among the worst in environmental sustainability, social justice and corporate governance (ESG). To keep prices low, and to stay relatively free of regulation, it relies on suppliers in China, where the Uyghur populations suffer forced labor and dangerous working conditions. Also, with wasteful environmental practices ingrained in its model, fast fashion is so harmful that most regulators believe it is irredeemable. As the king of fast fashion, Shein has a lot to answer for.

Still, as the company hires new sustainability-focused leaders and promises a new conscious approach, its efforts to market an enthusiastic ambition to jump on the ESG bandwagon should put it on the path to redemption, right? Not quite.

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