A newly formed coalition calls Shein the “biggest national threat you’ve never heard of.”
On Thursday, Shut Down Shein, led by media strategist Chapin Fay, urged the U.S. government to protect Americans by slapping a nationwide ban on the Chinese e-tail giant, whose meteoric rise has left in its wake a slew of controversies, from copyright infringement to labor rights abuses.
Shein, the group of unnamed “like-minded individuals and businesses” alleges, is likely breaking U.S. laws by committing “crimes against humanity” and engaging in “anti-competitive” and “nefarious business practices.” It accused America’s most downloaded shopping app, albeit without evidence, of ties to both the Chinese Communist Party and to TikTok, the Chinese-owned viral video platform currently under Congressional klieg lights for its handling of sensitive U.S. user data.
Shut Down Shein said that the Singapore-headquartered firm, known for its $10 dresses and $12 shoes, is “exploiting” de minimis laws in the United States by sending goods in small packages, thus dodging “billions of dollars” in import tariffs. South Africa’s local textile union and industry associations have made a similar complaint, triggering a government investigation into whether Shein is using the country’s own tax exceptions to gain an unfair upper hand.
But the coalition goes further by claiming that Shein, in so doing, is making its “unwitting American consumers accomplices in the process.” Social media’s buzziest brand, it said, has been “operating below the radar with no regard for U.S. law or ethical business practices.” It pointed to a November Bloomberg report that used isotopic testing to find traces of Xinjiang cotton in garments ordered from Shein on two separate occasions, eventually drawing the attention of U.S. senators such as Elizabeth Warren. By purportedly employing the controversial fiber, Shein is violating the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and making American consumers “unknowingly complicit,” Shut Down Shein said.
“This is an epic scam on American taxpayers by a Chinese government-controlled company that we believe is likely breaking U.S. and international law,” said Fay, Shut Down Shein’s executive director. “By using slave labor, evading U.S. tariffs, and targeting American teenagers, Shein is able to charge less for its products and undercut law-abiding businesses.”
The Temu rival, once valued at $100 billion but now worth closer to $74 billion, said that it “categorically” denies the group’s claims, which it called “false and baseless.”
“Shein proudly provides customers with on-demand and affordable fashion, beauty and lifestyle products, lawfully and with full respect for the communities where we operate,” a spokesperson told Sourcing Journal. “We will not hesitate to take swift action to protect the rights of the company.”
But Fay went on to say that the coalition “will not stop” until Shein, which it says is “threatening” America‘s children and recently retained a new powerful lobbyist, “stops using American consumers as accomplices, stops engaging in questionable and anti-competitive business practices and treats their workers with the human dignity and respect they deserve.”
“Ahead of Shein’s plans to go public and be listed on a U.S. stock exchange within the year, U.S. officials and the American public must remain vigilant,” he added. “Shut Down Shein is determined to protect American consumers and ensure a level playing field.”