Lawsuit Accuses Shein of Copying Designers’ Work

Will it alter the company's upward trajectory?

Shein logos
Three artists recently sued clothing retailer Shein.
RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

When it comes to selling clothing and accessories online, the Chinese retailer Shein appears to be on a dramatically upward trajectory. A New York Times article published earlier this year noted that it had surpassed Amazon as the most-downloaded retail app in the U.S. As per an Insider article from earlier this month, the company was valued at $100 billion as of 2022.

That doesn’t mean that its rise is guaranteed — or that the company hasn’t hit some stumbling blocks along the way. There’s the matter of a controversy surrounding a trip the company assembled to address its labor practices earlier this year — and now, Shein faces a lawsuit from a trio of designers arguing that the company illicitly copied their designs.

“[T]his case is only tangentially about Shein being a generally bad actor,” states the lawsuit brought by Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez and Jay Baron in a U.S. District Court. As per the suit, the three designers “allege that Shein produced, distributed, and sold exact copies of their creative work.”

As Hyperallergic’s Maya Pontone points out in an article about the lawsuit, this one is only the latest in a number of cases alleging that Shein sold designs identical to copyrighted work without obtaining the permission of the designs in question.

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The lawsuit goes on to argue that Shein’s practice of manufacturing relatively low quantities of certain designs makes it easier for the company to avoid attracting attention for duplicating copyrighted work. These are serious accusations — and whether that will suffice to alter the company’s business practices remains to be seen.

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