Chinese retail site Shein recently faced criticism for offering Palestinian flags for sale at £4.25, while a search for the Israel flag yielded a broken link.
The affordable site has gained popularity among Israeli consumers, who expressed outrage over the flag sale and initiated a widespread call to boycott the platform. In a Facebook group where users recommend or critique Shein purchases, one consumer wrote, “By supporting a terrorist organization like Hamas, which attacks my country Israel, you have lost our business. Hamas is even worse than ISIS.”
Following the outcry, Shein removed the Palestinian flags from their inventory.
However, another scandal erupted as the online retailer decided to terminate its partnerships with Israeli influencers. Influencers across the country received a mass email stating, “Thank you for your support and love for Shein. Due to adjustments, the campaign’s publication date has been postponed. Please refrain from posting about Shein. We will provide an update with more details and a new publication date soon.”
Moreover, all free deliveries to Israel have been canceled.
These recent events have further fueled the call to boycott Shein.
Beyond the flag: Environmental impact
Beyond the controversial flag sale, there are additional aspects that consumers should be aware of: Shein’s clothing is mass-produced using cheap fabrics, enabling them to offer low prices. However, the quality of the fabric is generally subpar, leading to an unpleasant touch and limited durability after several washes.
The mass production of clothes using low-quality fabrics also contributes to air pollution, excessive water consumption, emission of carbon dioxide, and challenges in recycling such fabrics.
Moreover, the working conditions and wages for workers in Shein’s supply chain are often criticized, along with the excessive use of cardboard packaging and frequent international flights to transport goods from China to eager consumers in Israel. These factors raise concerns about the environmental impact of supporting Shein.
In light of Shein’s recent controversies and the wider implications of their business practices, it is crucial for consumers to reflect on these issues and consider the consequences of their purchasing decisions.