Global Fashion Brand Under Fire for Allegedly Copying Designs – TheStreet


Fast fashion company Shein almost constantly remains under fire, accused of copying designs from other fashion designers, unsuitable labor conditions, putting toxic materials in its clothing and failing to protect customer data appropriately.

Thanks to the China-based company’s resources in clothing production markets, its ability to clone fashion designs and mass-produce them for pennies on the dollar has helped Shein and other fast fashion brands churn through an endless lineup of new product. Its reach is so large that, in 2021, Shein overtook Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Free Report as the most downloaded shopping app in the U.S.

Unfortunately, there’s very little that an independent designer can do in the event that their work is copied by a fashion juggernaut like Shein. Copyright protection is flimsy for fashion design in the U.S. (exceptions are made for distinguishing logos, brand names, and original prints). Unless the original designer is a major name with legal resources, pursuing action is near impossible. Fast fashion brands have also faced lawsuits for reproducing designs from big names like Levi Strauss  (LEVI) – Get Free Report and Ralph Lauren  (RL) – Get Free Report.

Still, if the artist is able to stir up enough social media flurry, a site may apologize and take the item down — after having sold however many items with no payment to the original designer. 

Now, it appears that Shein has copied an independent creator for design — this time using their face on a dress. And its use raises some concerning questions.

Stylist Says Her Face Was Used For Fast Fashion Design

Former healthcare worker turned TikTok star Tami has almost 332,000 followers on her account, sterk_acres. There, she shows off outfits and offers style tips, and when she’s not on the app, she runs an online shop that sells one-of-a-kind bags, scarves, and more. Earlier in the month, Tami was caught by surprise when a follower reached out about a dress on Shein featuring a face that looked an awful lot like Tami.

Since then, several more followers have reached out to Tami with the belief that Tami herself shares — the image on the dress is her face. She details her initial reaction, feeling mostly shocked and flattered. She acknowledges that it felt a little invasive, but ultimately let her followers know that she’s not upset by the dress.

The incident, while unconfirmed by Shein, does raise the question of the legality for the generally unregulated fashion industry. Shein, which hopes to launch an IPO in the U.S. as early as 2024, isn’t the only fast-fashion retailer that’s been called out for copying the work of independent designers. Zara, H&M  (HNNMY) , Authentic Brands Group store Forever 21, and even Gap Inc.  (GPS) – Get Free Report brand Old Navy have been called out for similar practices.

When copyright laws were being written in the U.S., the country was home to a growing textile industry, but it had yet to establish any of its own fashion houses. Protecting clothing design wasn’t the concern that it is now. Countries like Italy, France, Scotland, and Germany, all homes to long-running fashion houses, have laws specifically targeted toward protecting fashion designs. 

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