— Three graphic designers have filed a lawsuit against Shein, a major fast-fashion retailer in China, for what they call "egregious" copyright violations and racketeering.
The designers claim that Shein made and marketed exact replicas of their designs in the case, which was submitted to a federal court in California on Tuesday. They assert that Shein utilizes "secretive algorithms" to identify fashion trends and that these algorithms "could not work" if they did not produce exact replicas of the works of other artists.
Shein, according to the designers, has become wealthy by "committing individual infringements over and over again."
In the lawsuit, it is claimed that Shein violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), asserting that these accusations are valid given that Shein is not simply one organization but rather a "de-facto association of entities."
"The Shein empire is neither the brainchild of Yves Saint Laurent or Coco Chanel. Instead, the lawsuit asserts that Xu Yangtian, also known as Chris Xu, is a mysterious IT whiz.
The lawsuit continues, quoting from the BBC Channel 4 program "Inside the Shein Machine," "When you start to look behind that, at who is the company, it's a big black hole."
According to the complaint, Shein's organizational structure shows that the business is a dispersed set of businesses, enabling it to "avoid liability" and "avoid disclosing basic information."
"SHEIN takes all claims of infringement seriously, and we move quickly when complaints are made by legitimate IP rights holders," a Shein spokeswoman stated in a statement. We will vehemently defend ourselves against this lawsuit and any unfounded charges.
One of the designers who filed the lawsuit, Krista Perry, came up with the print "Make it Fun," which has a multicolored graphic surrounding the text. The lawsuit claims she soon discovered Shein.com was offering duplicates of her designs for sale. She claims that when she complained, an email from firstname.lastname@example.org offered her $500; she turned it down.
Shein claims that the business only manufactures 100 to 200 units of each model at launch on their "About us" page.