Rolling Stones want to cancel their deal with fast-fashion brand Shein after just 1 week over labor abuse claims

November 29, 2022, 12:17 PM UTC
Ron Wood, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on stage
The Rolling Stones were deeply concerned about allegations of labor abuse at Shein.
Nils Petter Nilsson—Getty Images

Just a week after announcing a merchandise deal with fast-fashion giant Shein, the Rolling Stones have demanded that their representatives terminate it immediately. 

The collection featuring the legendary British rock band was launched with the world’s biggest clothes retailer for the group’s 60th anniversary, featuring cheap clothes and accessories bearing the Stones’ iconic tongue-and-lips logo: One T-shirt with a dinosaur print went for $5.39, a phone case was $1.80, and a cap $6. 

However, just weeks before, Shein had been the focus of an investigation that found evidence of labor abuse in its supply chain. In at least two of its Chinese factories, the report found that workers were being made to do 18-hour days, seven days a week, with only one day off per month. Some were paid only 3 or 4 cents per item. 

The undercover investigation that aired in October—by British broadcaster Channel 4—was widely shared and prompted outrage, but it appeared to escape the band’s attention until recently. 

When the band was contacted by British newspaper i following the launch of “Shein x Rolling Stones,” they reportedly responded “within hours” calling for the deal’s end. 

The deal was signed by Bravado International Group Merchandising Services, owned by Universal Music Group, which bought the rights to the Rolling Stones’ entire back catalog of recorded music and video and the Stones brand in 2018. 

A spokesperson for the band said, “We do not want to be associated with Shein, having been made aware of the recent revelations about the treatment of workers in its supply chain,” and confirmed that the licensing agreement has been terminated effective immediately. 

Fast fashion still rises 

Shein had previously come under fire for labor violations after a probe in 2021 found that staff had been working 75-hour weeks, violating local labor laws. 

Despite the revelations, Shein remains the world’s third most valuable startup behind ByteDance, the Chinese parent of TikTok, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Shein is now worth more than H&M and Zara-parent Inditex combined, according to Bloomberg

In the first half of 2022, Shein sold $16 billion worth of merchandise and forecasts $30 billion in sales for the whole of the year. 

In answer to Fortune’s request for comment, the company replied:  

“Shein takes the welfare of workers at its suppliers extremely seriously and does not tolerate forced labour.

“Our Supplier Code of Conduct is aligned with International Labour Organization core conventions, all local laws and regulations, with penalties that include the termination of business partnership for those suppliers and manufacturers who do not remediate their practices.

“Through the Shein Responsible Sourcing Programme, we work with leading agencies to conduct ongoing, unannounced audits of our supply chain, which have confirmed no forced labour violations.”

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