On TikTok, millions of viewed videos are compared to certain Shein and Zara models, pointing out similarities. Fast-fashion is regularly accused of copying other brands.
The fast fashion industry is often accused of plagiarism. But for once, the Chinese Shein is chosen because he is inspired by his competitor Zara. On TikTok, dozens of videos show the similarities between the two brands’ clothing, spotted the Guardian†
Internet users do not denounce the infringement of intellectual property. On the contrary, they are happy that Shein is a cheaper alternative to Zara. Videos that mention the hashtag #zaradupe (copy of Zara) are viewed 39.9 million times. We see users comparing the models of the two brands and welcome that the Shein version is two to three times cheaper than Zara’s.
Shein, the Chinese bulldozer
While Zara is well known to most French people, the first store to open in 1990 on the Place de l’Opéra in Paris, Shein is much less so. Unlike Aliexpress or Wish, Shein is not a marketplace. It is a genuine brand that manufactures its products in China and resells them at ridiculous prices.
Shein is considered the emblem of “ultra fast fashion”. In France, popularity exploded during the close of 2020 due to store closures and travel restrictions. Unlike the traditional Zara, Pull and Bear or Mango, Shein has never had a physical retail outlet.
The recipe for success is simple: an even faster renewal of collections than the oldest, prices rarely exceed 10 euros and a much younger target. 16- to 24-year-olds addicted to social networking and shopping. To attract them, the Chinese bulldozer is collaborating en masse with influencers to whom they send boxes of clothes and offer discount codes for their subscribers.
Shein reigns supreme in the galaxy of ultra-fast fashion, which also includes NastyGal, Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing. The Chinese giant now weighs more than $100 billion (91.60 billion euros) and surpasses the cumulative valuations of the Spanish group Inditex (Zara, Pull and Bear, Bershka, etc.) worth $68 billion, or 62.29 billion euros, and the Swedish H&M (20 billion dollars or 18.32 billion euros).
Recurring Accusations of Plagiarism
This isn’t the first time Shein has been accused of forgery. The company was sued in 2018 by Levis Strauss & Co for copying a trademarked denim seam. Last year, Dr. Martens plagiarized him from a shoe design. And many small creators often complain that their creations are reproduced by Shein.
“Suppose Shein stole an idea from Zara. By the time Zara finds out and files a lawsuit, it will take two years, a few weeks. Proving anything two years later is impossible,” Mike Flanagan, CEO of consulting firm Clothingsource, told me. to The Guardian.
The giant Zara has also been convicted of intellectual property infringement. In 2020, the Danish justice sentenced him to compensate Rains, a brand of rainwear, for copying one of his parkas.
By copying existing models, fast fashion can further reduce lead times. In the documentary Arte Fast-fashion – Fashionable underwear at low prices, a former stylist from the Inditex group explains that the group sends its stylists to all corners of the world to play spies and get inspired by current trends.
“We’ve had image protection training several times a year. Specifically, you need to have seven differences between the garment you’re inspired by and the garment that’s produced to avoid lawsuits,” explains stylist Marine Olacia.
Asked by the Guardian, Zara declined to comment. Shein, for its part, requires its suppliers to certify that their products do not infringe on the intellectual property of third parties.