Shein vs. Independent Designers: Fast Fashion Retailer Faced with Copyright Infringement

Shein vs. Independent Designers: Fast Fashion Retailer Faced with Copyright Infringement

News by Anja PaspaljAnja Paspalj
Published: July 17, 2023

Fast fashion retailer Shein’s immense popularity comes at a price.  

Despite being the most googled fashion retailer worldwide, with a following of 29.5 million on Instagram, the eCommerce brand is currently being sued by plaintiffs accusing it of copyright infringement and racketeering. 

The plaintiffs in question are three designers, Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez, and Jay Baron. The graphic designers claim that Shein has sold copies of their work without consulting them, violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO).

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Although it has announced that it “takes all claims of infringement seriously” and will “take swift action when complaints are raised by valid IP right holders,” this is not the first time that the retailer has encountered such allegations.

Shein has a history of being accused of stealing work from independent designers and small business owners to no avail.

“Shein has grown rich by committing individual infringements over and over again, as part of a long and continuous pattern of racketeering, which shows no sign of abating,” states the court filing.

“It is not an exaggeration to suggest that Shein’s pattern of misconduct involves commission of new copyright and trademark infringements every day.”

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Perry, Martinez, and Baron have listed specific designs that the fast fashion retailer has reproduced and sold under its brand name, without prior authorization from the artists.

“As a result of Defendants’ misconduct as alleged herein, their career has been irreparably tarnished, diminishing the value of their works, and decreasing revenue derived from their work,” notes the official complaint.

Most up-and-coming designers fear that fighting against the copyright infringement of global fast fashion retailers is a losing battle. However, considering Shein’s increasingly tarnished reputation, this case may represent a turning point in the way the brand functions in the future.

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