But answers about Shein—which boasts a lighting-fast production process to respond to changing fashion trends—are elusive.
As CNN Business reports, Shein is “notoriously reclusive,” despite being one of China’s most valuable privately-held businesses.
Shein’s parent company is the internet firm Nanjing Lingtian Information Technology Co., Ltd, per a registry of Chinese businesses cited by Deal Street Asia. Nanjing Lingtian’s net worth is a mystery, but analysts have valued the Shein business at $15 billion, per Reuters.
The Shein brand was founded in 2012 by Chris Xu, whose net worth is also not publicly available.
But pending legal issues may shed more light on the popular brand. Here’s more information about Shein’s latest controversies…
Stüssy has sued Shein for trademark infringement and counterfeiting.
In a trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit filed in federal court in California last month, the fashion house Stüssy alleged that is Shein is “knowingly and intentionally” infringing its trademarks “for the purpose of causing confusion and diverting customers” away from Stüssy, as The Fashion Law reported at the time.
The Fashion Law previously reported that the companies Dr. Martens and Ralph Lauren have taken legal action against Shein over alleged infringement or counterfeiting, and that closes of Gucci, Dior, and Bottega Veneta products have appeared in Shein’s offerings.
With those legal actions from high-profile brands, The Fashion Law deems it likely that litigation will “lift the lid” on Shein’s inner workings.
Artists have accused Shein of stealing their work.
Last month, The Guardian reported on the large number of artists and designers who have claimed Shein stole their work. Artist Vanessa Bowman told the newspaper that she was surprised to get an email from a fan asking if she had collaborated with Shein. That was her first indication that a jumper sold through Shein that was printed with her one of her paintings.
“They didn’t remotely bother trying to change anything,” she told The Guardian. “The things I paint are my garden and my little village: it’s my life. And they’ve just taken my world to China and whacked it on an acrylic jumper.”
Meanwhile, illustrator Elora Pautrat told the newspaper that Shein had lifted her work around 11 times and that she has had to write to the copyright infringement team each time. “It’s frustrating because they do have power and resources to make proper collaborations with artists and still make a lot of money out of it,” Pautrat said. “But they just keep stealing for some reason, which just isn’t fair.”
In a statement, Shein said that it “respects designers and artists, and the intellectual property rights of others” and that it “promptly addresses” legitimate complaints from valid holders of intellectual property rights, per The Guardian. The company also adds that it takes “appropriate action” when “non-compliance is found” with suppliers that infringed intellectual property rights.