Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said he is “not fully familiar” with the fast fashion giant Shein.
This is despite one of his MEPs leading the charge against the controversial brand, which recently opened its headquarters in Dublin.
The leading fast fashion retailer has been criticized by Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan who claims it “exploits cheap labor” and the planet’s “natural resources” as it has a target of selling “as many items as possible”.
However, her party leader, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, admitted today that she is unfamiliar with the online brand, which has valuations of tens of billions of dollars and has held several pop-up shops in Ireland.
“I’m not fully familiar with the company,” he said.
“In the waste action plan that we are implementing, fashion is probably the most difficult. It’s the hardest area to recycle fabrics, it does need to be tackled at source in terms of European and national regulations.”
He said a company having its “European headquarters here doesn’t impact on our ability or our intention of regulating or implementing waste management measures”.
Mr Ryan said the Government can’t “completely restrict” and ban one retailer but allow another to set up its HQ in Ireland.
“You can’t completely restrict and say, one retailer yes, the other retailer – no. That won’t stop us implementing regulations and mechanisms to try and address that.”
He said the global fabric industry is based “on an unsustainable model”.
“But I don’t think the way to do it is by banning certain shops and not others.”
Critics have accused the brand of contributing to environmental waste. However its low prices have seen it become one of the world’s most popular brands.
Ms O’Sullivan said the company’s impact should be weighed up against its impact on the environment and workers’ rights internationally.
Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney cut the ribbon at Shein’s new EMEA headquarters in Dublin last week, where he said it is a “vote of confidence” that another retailer has chosen Ireland for its headquarters.