By Dan Strumpf
In just a few years, the Chinese apparel giant Shein has captured the market for bargain-seeking Gen-Z shoppers by offering huge varieties of cheap apparel every day. Along the way, it has picked up a long list of complaints of copyright theft from big brands and boutique designers.
Valued at more than $100 billion and backed by big-name investors such as Sequoia Capital China and General Atlantic, Shein—pronounced “she-in”—has enjoyed booming growth. Its appeal includes cut-rate prices, successful tie-ups with online influencers and an endlessly refreshing wardrobe of up to 6,000 new items a day.
Its rise has seen a growing number of lawsuits that allege the company is profiting from other people’s designs. Shein or its Hong Kong-based parent company, Zoetop Business Co., has been named in the past three years as a defendant in at least 50 federal lawsuits in the U.S. alleging trademark or copyright infringement, according to public records.
Plaintiffs range from small-time designers operating out of home studios to retail giants including a unit of Ralph Lauren Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207257694/composite RL -1.29% and sunglasses maker Oakley Inc., court records show. On social media, independent designers complain to fans and swap stories of products or designs that they say have appeared for sale by Shein without permission.
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