A PR move or a genuine attempt at change? After facing countless allegations of ripping of designs from budding designers, global fashion e-retailer, SHEIN has announced its plans to onboard an additional 1,000 aspiring designers and artists to join its flagship incubator programme, SHEIN X. The SHEIN X incubator programme guides designers through the end-to-end process, from product development, manufacturing, to marketing and supply chain logistics.
Newly onboarded SHEIN X designers will be offered opportunities to collaborate with designers, participate in exclusive events, as well as travel the world on global exchanges. SHEIN is partnering with the Graduate Fashion Foundation to support the SHEIN X fashion design competition where emerging designers will compete for spots to be featured in the SHEIN X Fashion Show in Paris in June 2023.
According to the company, over the past two years, SHEIN invested more than US$55 million to empower nearly 3,000 aspiring designers and artists from more than 20 countries. Designers are offered masterclasses, mentorship and tools, such as SHEIN’s analytics site where they can view the overall process and respond to consumer demands in real-time. SHEIN X designers own the rights to their SHEIN X designs.
Furthermore, SHEIN X designers can access the global reach of SHEIN’s social media platforms, as well as marketing activities and resources, to increase visibility and brand awareness for designers and their creations, helping them grow their influence within the industry.
Many SHEIN X designers also feature prominently at SHEIN’s physical events, such as pop-ups and fashion shows, such as the SHEIN X fashion show in Paris, as well as fashion weeks, which provide an international spotlight for the designers.
Chief operating officer of SHEIN, Molly Miao said “SHEIN is dedicated to continuing our SHEIN X outreach and efforts amongst designer and artist communities around the world, taking another step forward in making the beauty of fashion accessible to all.”
Late last year, the brand faced a US$100million lawsuit after a freelance artist claimed that the company stole her artform. The American freelance artist, known as Magdalena Mollman filed a suit against Zoetop Business Co, the Hong Kong-headquartered company trading as Shein, and Delaware, US-registered Shein Distribution Corp, based in California.
Meanwhile, Cookies SF, a clothing brand which has been around since 2011 also filed a lawsuit against the company in November for trademark infringement and counterfeiting. At the heart of the lawsuit was the use of a sweatshirt that was on sale on Shein’s website which reproduces its trademarked Cookies Mark.
How SHEIN has been trying to clean up its image?
While the brand has been no stranger to controversy, it has over the years been trying to clean up its image on the surface. For example, just last year, the company said it has plans to spend US$15 million over the next three to four years to help upgrade hundreds of factories in its supply chain. This came not long after SHEIN being accused of having unethical practices and partnering with suppliers that violate labour laws, as well as failing to make mandatory disclosures about factory conditions. The investment focuses on making physical enhancements to its suppliers’ factories and is part of SHEIN’s supplier community empowerment programme (SCEP).
On the sustainability front, SHEIN also launched SHEIN Exchange, an integrated online peer-to-peer resale destination to buy and sell previously owned SHEIN products. SHEIN said the goal of the Exchange was to meet community demand by providing a one-stop destination for customers to become active participants in circularity and promote the benefits of purchasing pre-owned clothing over purchasing new items.
The company has often copped flak over the years for contributing to the fast fashion industry.
Earlier this year, a Bloomberg report found that polyester has surpassed cotton as the backbone of textile production. After analysing over 15,000 pieces of clothing on SHEIN between 1 to 15 November 2021, Bloomberg found that 92.5% of its clothing contains new plastics. A few months after Bloomberg's report, SHEIN rolled out evoluSHEIN, an eco-friendly line with inclusive sizing and responsibly sourced materials.
The brand also said it plans to reduce overall emissions across its entire value chain by 25% by 2030. It plans to commit up to US$7.6 million in programmatic funding to Apparel Impact Institute, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to decarbonising and modernising the fashion industry supply chain, to build the roadmap for emissions reduction within SHEIN's supply chain.
Meanwhile according to Financial Times, is seeking $3 billion at a valuation of $64 billion.
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