Chinese super-fast fashion website Shein has been accused of copying rival Zara’s designs after dozens of images were shared on social media showing virtually identical clothes from the two outlets.
On the TikTok video platform, the hashtags #zaravsshein and #zaradupe – where users share the very similar articles of Zara and Shein, wearing them often – had 38.3 million and 39.8 million views respectively.
Shein has previously faced lawsuits alleging copyright infringement, including from global companies such as Levi Strauss, Dr. Martens producer AirWair International and Ralph Lauren. The hashtag #sheinstolemydesign has had 6.4 million views on TikTok.
On Instagram, some of the most striking examples have been collected by @dupesnation. However, some fashion influencers seem to be celebrating Shein’s ability to replicate Zara’s designs at a fraction of the cost. A post, captioned “Dupe AllyLikes”, shows a pastel pink and orange Zara shirt costing €29.95 alongside a seemingly identical shirt from Shein for €4.49, along with the product codes needed to purchase it.
Instagram account profile @zaravssheinsays in Spanish: “Find Zara clothes at Shein for half the price!!!! Every day a new garment!! References of all clothes. Start saving!”
Shein has more than quadrupled its revenue since 2019, according to the Business of Fashion website, reaching $15.7 billion (€14.4 billion) in sales. It is now reportedly seeking $1 billion in funding and a $100 billion valuation.
Alex Crumbie of campaign group Ethical Consumer said imitation “seems to be the lifeblood of super-fast fashion”, adding: “These brands usually replicate fashion seen elsewhere and turn it into a week. Copying designs reduces the deadline.”
It is unclear how they do it so quickly and cheaply. “There’s not a huge amount of information out there on Shein,” Crumbie said. “They’ll have supply chains all over the world where they can keep costs down, but where, we don’t know.”
If it is indeed plagiarism, could Shein get away with it? Very probably. “Let’s say Shein stole an idea from Zara,” said Mike Flanagan, chief executive of consultancy firm Clothessource. “By the time Zara spots it and files a lawsuit, you’re looking at two years. But that design may have only sold five and then disappeared within weeks. Proving something two years later is impossible .”
Zara owner Inditex declined to comment. A Shein spokesperson said, “Shein’s suppliers are required to comply with the company’s code of conduct and certify that their products do not infringe the intellectual property of third parties.” – Guardian