Minister Simon Coveney has faced criticism across online platforms for appearing in a promotional shoot for the fast-fashion brand SHEIN.
The photo opportunity has been credited to the company’s announcement of a new office based in Dublin, which is set to create 30 jobs by the end of the year with a view to potentially increasing that number over time.
SHEIN has also announced that it plans to host roughly 30 pop-up stores around Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) this year, with a Cork location on Opera Lane running from May 12th until the 17th.
The company has previously run successful pop-ups in Ireland, with last year’s Jervis Centre iteration boasting an opening day crowd of over 4,000 customers.
Despite the welcomed news of the delivery of new jobs, the prospect of a government minister appearing in promotional material for a brand with a proven track record in fast fashion has been much maligned online.
SHEIN’s business model is similar to that of Amazon, with the company bringing about 6,000 clothing factories in China under the one banner.
Adding anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 items of clothing to its’ online store each day, the outlet produces an astonishing number of products in what has been dubbed an unsustainable model.
The unsustainability becomes apparent when an item becomes particularly popular on the brand’s online store.
Although adding such vast quantities of new items each day, it has been reported that only between 50-100 pieces of each item are produced – with mass production ramping up when a certain product gains popularity.
This business model sees manufacturers across China rapidly make items, with vast usage of harmful chemicals such as oil and those which are used to create virgin polyester.
As a result of this large-scale chemical use, the company produces around 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide every year – a staggering 45% over a UN target set for fashion brands to reduce their carbon footprints, according to TIME magazine.
The company has not only seen environmental issues accrue during its meteoric rise to the top of the online fashion industry but endured other controversies such as allegedly copying designs from smaller labels, treacherous labour conditions for employees, and even the making of a swastika necklace.
Speaking on the news of SHEIN’s Irish expansion, Minister Coveney remarked that these newly created positions will offer employment opportunities in a range of specialist areas, adding that he has no doubt SHEIN will benefit from Ireland’s highly skilled workforce.
“It is a vote of confidence that another global leader has chosen Ireland to launch their EMEA HQ and highlights that we have the environment to attract FDI companies to our shores”.