Dive Brief:

  • Continuing its focus on emerging fashion designers, Shein has amassed almost 3,000 aspiring fashion designers and artists as part of its Shein X incubator program and has invested $55 million in them, the company announced on Wednesday. It celebrated the program’s second anniversary this month and said it wants to onboard 1,000 more designers this year.
  • As part of the initiative, the program shepherds aspiring designers throughout the fashion process, including product development, manufacturing, marketing and supply chain logistics. The company also pays for the production and logistics costs to assist designers with the financial risks of creating and debuting their fashion collections, according to the announcement.
  • The company does not retain the intellectual property rights of participating designers. It also has paid more than $5 million in commissions to these designers.

Dive Insight:

As it aims to bring on more designers in 2023, Shein is also working with The Graduate Fashion Foundation to host the Shein X fashion design competition for up-and-coming European designers. The winning contestants will be featured in the Shein X Fashion Show in Paris in June.

“A core pillar of Shein’s business model is to empower entrepreneurs. The Shein X program nurtures designers, helping them elevate their brands on the global stage,” Molly Miao, chief operating officer of Shein, said in a statement. “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.”

In 2021, Shein emerged as the top fast fashion retailer, surpassing H&M, Zara, Forever 21 and Fashion Nova, according to a June 2021 report from Earnest Research. At that time, the company made up more than a quarter of U.S. fast fashion sales, exceeding H&M’s 20% and Zara’s 11%. 

Despite its meteoric rise, the company might be reducing its valuation. According to a Financial Times report on Wednesday, the company is trying to raise up to $3 billion while valuing itself at $64 billion, down from its $100 billion valuation last year.  

One strategy the company is pursuing is resale. In October, the company debuted its recommerce platform Shein Exchange, where customers could buy and sell used items on the brand’s mobile app. The company introduced the platform in the U.S. last year and plans to offer it internationally this year.

But Shein’s rise to prominence has not been without controversy. In 2021, the company introduced its Shein X 100K Challenge featuring reality TV personality Khloé Kardashian, fashion designer Christian Siriano, fashion designer Jenna Lyons, InStyle style director Laurel Pantin and stylist Law Roach to judge the competition. However, the news generated criticism from some of the participating judges. That same year, the company was the subject of a CBC investigation that found elevated levels of lead, phthalates, PFAS and other chemicals in some tested clothing.


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