Shein, a fast-fashion retailer headquartered in Singapore, has had its fair share of scandals since it attained worldwide fame after its rebranding in 2015. Time and time again, the company is called out because of environmental concerns, issues surrounding working conditions and employee treatment and now for copyright charges.
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, prevents organized crime such as businesses partaking in dishonest and fraudulent dealings. Shein was able to be sued under the statutes of RICO for its consistent selling of copyrighted work, whether it was clothing, posters, jewelry or anything else a creative mind could design.
In fact, three creative minds were the ones who filed the lawsuit. Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez and Jay Baron are all graphic designers who decided to take action against Shein’s heinous crimes.
Perry had a particularly bad experience with Shein. She sells her own, and might I add adorable, designs on her website; however, she was alarmed to find an exact copy of one of her posters on Shein’s website. When she was able to talk to an employee at Shein about it, they offered her an insulting $500. The company’s estimated revenue for the year 2022 was $30 billion.
While copyright lawsuits have been filed before, the graphic designers’ attorney, Jeff Gluck, hopes for a different outcome this time.
"We hope for a successful outcome that will have a positive impact on the global art and design communities that have long been at odds with Shein and the endless infringement allegations," Gluck said in an interview with NPR.
This would result in better protections for the design owners ultimately generating more revenue and allowing them to maintain their originality.
Small business owners have longed for the day that Shein would be held accountable for stealing designs, but fashion copyright law has its own lengthy list of complications. I can only hope that this puts an end to Shein’s long history of stealing designs from hardworking and creative individuals. However, it is difficult to blame consumers for being blinded by Shein’s prices. Seeing two seemingly identical items for different price points constitutes a very simple decision.
As someone who knows people that sell designs on Etsy and has thought about doing it, the thought of a major corporation stealing my design and selling it to make way more of a profit than I could dream of is terrifying.
None of this comes from a place of judgment. I recognize my privilege of not needing to rely on Shein to put clothes on my back. However, this all does point to larger issues such as minimum wage being high enough so that people can afford clothing without resorting to fast fashion. Our culture’s way of promoting trends going in and out of style so quickly also allows companies like Shein to remain successful.
This issue is far beyond the fault of the consumer – it is the fault of the corporation.
Layne Rey is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Let Layne know by tweeting her @laynerey12.