Shein has been accused of “deliberate and calculated” trademark infringement by a raft of both major and independent brands and is facing legal action.
AirWair International, the owner of Dr Martens, is suing the Chinese fast-fashion giant for copyright infringement.
Shein, which is now widely thought to be the most visited fashion site on the planet, has been accused of having a “clear intent to sell counterfeits” by the footwear giant in a complaint filed in California.
Dr Martens highlighted products labelled as “Marin Boots” on Shein, adding that it not only created direct copies of its products, but also used “photographs of genuine Dr Martens footwear to entice customers to its website to buy fake copy footwear”.
While Shein has denied the claims, it is just the latest in a string of similar accusations from brands and designers across the fashion market.
According to the Financial Times, independent earring brand Kikay was alerted to its designs being sold on Shein earlier this month, an issue its co-founder Quinn Jones said Shein was “infamous for”.
After posting the alleged infringement on Instagram, the post received thousands of comments, many of which were from independent fashion brands complaining of similar cases.
“It happens again and again,” Jones told the Financial Times.
“It’s on Shein to do the due diligence, because until they stop running their business this way, they’re just continually hurting small businesses, people trying to support themselves.”
Shein has quietly risen to become the US’ most downloaded retail app by using advanced data analytics to establish emerging fashion trends, then quickly create its own designs, produce them in its vast Chinese factory network, then sell them across international markets for a fraction of the cost.
Its model enables it to take an item from design to hangar in a matter of days, while severely undercutting even its fast-fashion rivals in price.
In response to the allegations, Shein said: “We take every complaint on intellectual property right infringements seriously, conduct in-depth investigations on such complaints, and take swift actions on suppliers who violate our intellectual property policies.
“We also continue to invest in and improve our product review process to spot and prevent infringements.”