WASHINGTON - One 20-year-old from Rockville is speaking out against the fast-fashion giant Shein.
Lexy Silverstein is a student at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles.
When she learned that FIDM was partnering with Shein to offer select students scholarships, Silverstein said she was "appalled."
"One of the reasons I chose this college in Los Angeles was because of their sustainability classes. I was proud to share that FIDM was named one of the Top Ten Sustainable Fashion Schools in the World. So how hypocritical is it for my school to partner with a fashion brand that has such an unsustainable business model?"
The partnership with Shein includes giving 12 students at FIDM a $40,000 scholarship.
"The purpose of this scholarship program and curriculum is to benefit up-and-coming design students in the LA community by removing some of the barriers typically associated with the fashion industry. With more than 20 proud FIDM alums currently working at SHEIN and our U.S. corporate headquarters only a few blocks away from FIDM’s campus, this is a cause close to our hearts, and is part of SHEIN’s commitment to empowering young designers and artists through our SHEIN X designer incubator program," said Shein to FOX 5 in a statement.
Silverstein created an online petition to end the partnership. As of writing, the petition has over 4,000 signatures.
"My new goal is to start a sustainability council including students and faculty so that we can have a say in future partnerships," said Silverstein.
Shein, which is based in China, is facing a RICO lawsuit, which claims that the company's copyright infringement is so aggressive, it amounts to racketeering.
The company has also faced accusations of using forced labor, as well as criticism over being environmentally unsustainable.