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"Literally No One Believes You": Influencers Are Facing Major Backlash After Documenting Their Trip To A Shein Clothing Factory

What's the late stage of capitalism called where influencers say poor labor conditions are propaganda?

Recently, influencer and self-dubbed confidence activist Dani Carbonari faced widespread backlash online after sharing footage from a brand trip at one of Shein's reported 6,000 factories.

Twitter: @thisisnefertiti

If the name sounds familiar, it's because Shein is one of the world's largest online-only retailers, and it has not been without controversy. The fast-fashion brand has oft faced criticism for poor working conditions in their factories, which helped produce the 2,000–10,000 styles added to their site daily in 2021.

A close-up of a Shein logo

In Carbonari's now-deleted video, which has been viewed well over 11 million times on Twitter alone, she praised the brand's work, saying, "This China trip has been one of the most life-changing trips of my life. ... Getting to see the whole process of Shein clothing from beginning to end with my own two eyes was so important to me."

"I was really excited and impressed to see the working conditions," she said. 

Then, the influencer refers to herself as an "investigative journalist" before sharing an experience she had interviewing one of the factory's employees. "She was very surprised at all of the rumors that have been spread in the US," Carbonari said. "I think my biggest takeaway from this trip is to be an independent thinker, get the facts, and see it with your own two eyes."

Carbonari smiles as she talks two people in what looks like a factory

"There's a narrative fed to us in the US, and I'm one that always likes to be open minded and seek the truth. So, I'm grateful for that about myself and I hope the same for you guys," she concluded.

Carbonari's words largely resemble those of the other influencers on the trip — Destene Sudduth, Aujené, and Marina Saavedra — who each took a moment to suggest damning reports about the company are "misinformation" or say that workers were "surprised" by questions concerning poor working conditions.

However, people online were quick to call out the influencers involved, saying, "Literally no one believes this."

"Yes queen," one person commented under Carbonari's video. "Throwing out your morals for a check is so fetch."

"It's the lies you're being paid to tell for me," another agreed.

Even more felt like the company was using these influencers as a way to trick consumers into rejecting the widespread documentation of their poor labor practices...

...like Channel4's documentary, Inside the Shein Machine: UNTOLD, whose undercover cameras seemingly captured workers clocking 17-hour days with a base salary of $20 per day.

This already low wage was reportedly further diminished to about $14 a day if garments were found to have mistakes. 

Similarly, a 2022 report published by Synthetics Anonymous 2.0 on fashion and sustainability said to have found that Shein's 6,000 factories burn a lot of oil and thus produce as much CO2 as about 180 coal-fired power plants.

And in a 2021 investigation by Swiss watchdog group Public Eye, researchers reportedly interviewed several people working in companies that supply Shein's products, and learned that they were working upward of 75 hours per week with one day off per month.

The group accused Shein of going against Chinese labor laws, which limit employees to a 40-hour work week. 

The investigation further points to "informal production sites" in a village where small workshops produced clothing for Shein in buildings with barred windows and seemingly no emergency exits.

After facing judgment, Carbonari released a now-deleted response video in which she tells viewers, "I know exactly what the fuck I'm doing. ... I was taken on a trip. Once in a lifetime chance. You would have done the exact same thing."

"We are fed propaganda. We are fed a whole line about Chinese people, Chinese culture," she concluded. 

BuzzFeed has reached out to Carbonari for comment. We'll update you if they respond. 

In a statement, a Shein spokesperson told BuzzFeed:

"SHEIN is committed to transparency and this trip reflects one way in which we are listening to feedback, providing an opportunity to show a group of influencers how SHEIN works through a visit to our innovation center and enabling them to share their own insights with their followers. Their social media videos and commentary are authentic, and we respect and stand by each influencer’s perspective and voice on their experience. We look forward to continuing to provide more transparency around our on-demand business model and operations."