‘Concerns’ expressed about Shein human rights record as fast-fashion retailer announces Irish expansion

Firm will add 30 jobs in Ireland this year

Shein Ireland Country Manager Shiwei Yu, Director for Europe Cui He, Global Head of Government Relations Leonard Lin, Enterprise Trade and Employment Minister Simon Coveney TD and IDA Head of Growth Markets Eileen Sharpe

Sarah Collins

An Irish MEP has expressed concerns about online fashion behemoth Shein’s plans to expand in Ireland.

The Chinese fast-fashion retailer aims to add 30 jobs in Ireland this year after opening a new regional hub in Dublin.

The Dublin city centre office will become the firm’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters and host Shein’s strategic IT hub for the region.

Shein said it was looking to increase staff numbers in Ireland beyond 30 as the company grows.

But Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews said he was “deeply concerned” about Shein’s environmental and human rights record, and said the company has questions to answer about how it can sell clothing at such a discount.

“Obviously I welcome investment into Dublin and Ireland – but at what cost?” he said.

“Shein has been consistently criticised for its promotion of ultra-fast fashion and for its unwillingness to share details about its manufacturing practices.”

Shein is facing dozens of US lawsuits from other clothing designers over copyright infringement.

Last year a Reuters investigation found the retailer had not made mandatory UK public disclosures about working conditions along its supply chain.

And following a recent Channel 4 investigation, Shein announced a $15m (€14m) investment in its supplier factories after it admitted that working hours at two sites breached local regulations.

On its website, Shein says it does not use child or forced labour and that it produces limited quantities of new lines to help reduce waste.

Mr Andrews said the Irish Government should "encourage Shein to explain their business model and ensure that consumers have more transparency about what they are buying” – particularly as the firm plans to host a pop-up shop from Friday in Opera Lane in Cork.

"Human rights and environmental abuses should not be allowed in our shopping baskets,” he said.

Leonard Lin, Shein’s global head of government relations, said the retailer was looking forward to “contributing to the growth of the local economies and to supporting local communities” in the EMEA region.

Shein’s IDA Ireland-supported move was welcomed by Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney, who said it was a “vote of confidence” in Ireland and "highlights that we have the environment to attract FDI companies to our shores”.

The news comes after tech firms led a 21pc jump in foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Ireland last year, according to consultants EY.

It puts Ireland in 10th place in Europe, the same position it held last year, according to EY’s latest FDI attractiveness survey.

Ireland attracted 184 new or expansion projects last year, up from 152 in 2021, with almost half located outside Dublin.

The share of software and IT services in that number was 31pc, with business and professional services at 27pc. Medical devices and pharmaceutical firms were the next-largest investors.