Shein commits $55m to upgrading suppliers

Fast fashion giant Shein has provided $55m to improve conditions at its third-party manufacturing suppliers, including upgrading facilities and upskilling workers.

The funding will go towards its Supplier Community Empowerment Program  (SCEP), which was established last year to “transform traditional production models” using technology and bring supply chains into the “modern era”.

The funding builds on $15m the firm announced last year, taking total commitments to $70m, which will be paid out over the next five years to manufacturers in Shein’s supplier network. 

The announcement comes as US senators attempted to block an expected IPO by the company if it does not provide greater transparency on its supply chains, and prove it does not make use of forced Uyghur labour from Xinjiang.

The SCEP was granted $15m in December to upgrade factories. The firm has promised to upgrade “hundreds” of its factories, including over 100 in 2023 alone. So far, it has upgraded 31. 

Shein has also announced it is providing $40m to its recently-built Centre of Innovation for Garment Manufacturing, which it said will enable “sustainable production ecosystems”, and make processes more agile.

The funding will also go towards providing housing options to supply chain workers, as well as childcare centres, and “lifestyle facilities” including leisure spaces.

Shein’s general manager of supply chain, Tony Ren, claimed the company has been at the “forefront” of innovative production models.

The company has been at the centre of multiple allegations of worker abuses. In February, US senators questioned Shein over its links to Xinjiang after analysis alleged samples of Shein garments shipped to the US were made from cotton produced in the area, where widespread abuse of the Uyghur population has been recorded.

In December, a report further claimed Shein's supplier factories were forcing garment makers to work 18-hour days, paying them as little as 3p per item, and permitting them just one day off a month. 

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