On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed against Shein, claiming that the popular fast fashion retailer engages in a complex operation to steal the intellectual property of both established and emerging designers. The lawsuit further alleges that Shein employs a “confusing” corporate structure to evade accusations of theft with minimal legal consequences.
Independent designers Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez, and Jay Baron have accused Shein of reproducing, distributing, and selling exact replicas of their creative works. They argue that such actions are an inherent part of Shein’s design process and organizational culture, according to The Fashion Law.
The lawsuit filed asserts that Shein utilizes a secretive algorithm designed to identify emerging fashion trends. If an infringement allegation arises, the company intentionally produces a limited quantity of the allegedly stolen item. This approach allows Shein to swiftly address the accusation while continuing to meet demand.
The complaint highlights the vulnerability of small or independent designers who lack brand protection specialists and specialized software to detect infringements. Without adequate resources, the complaint contends that infringements by Shein often go unnoticed. Should there be sustained demand for the item, Shein allegedly proceeds to produce more, as long as there is no imminent threat of infringement claims.
In cases where a cease and desist letter or lawsuit is issued, the plaintiffs argue that Shein relies on a decentralized corporate structure with multiple entities. This structure allegedly serves to deflect liability for intellectual property infringement. The lawsuit further alleges that Shein attempts to shift blame onto independent companies, while these entities are, in fact, connected to Shein itself.