The leading Chinese ultra-fast fashion company, Shein has recently announced its strategic move to commence garment production in Mexico. The Singapore-based online retailer, known for its affordable and trendy clothing, is exploring plans to build a factory in Mexico as part of its efforts to diversify manufacturing hubs outside China and expand its footprint in Latin America.
The decision comes amid increased scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and growing concerns over the company’s supply-chain links to China. Shein has faced criticism for allegedly stealing designs from small independent labels, selling offensive items, and forcing garment workers to work in extremely unethical conditions. The company has also been questioned by Mexico for using cultural elements from the Mayan indigenous community in one of its garment designs, which led to the removal of the product from its website.
The new factory in Mexico aims to shorten shipping times and reduce distribution costs for customers in Latin America. In April, Shein announced plans to build a manufacturing network in Brazil to serve as a global customer base. The upcoming Mexico factory will not house items from third-party vendors, but it will produce Shein products exclusively.
“Shein’s localization of production can potentially shorten shipping times and reduce distribution costs for customers in the region. This strategic move allows the company to tailor its garment factories and production facilities based on the specific needs of Latin America market,” said Jeanel Alvarado.
A final location for the Mexico site has not been decided yet, according to sources familiar with the matter who requested anonymity due to the private nature of the discussions. Marcelo Claure, chairman of Shein Latin America, confirmed in an emailed statement that the company is “continuing to explore nearshoring options,” referring to manufacturing closer to the point of sale.
Shein’s expansion into Mexico is part of a broader trend of international fashion brands eyeing the country’s growing fashion market. As the second-largest economy in Latin America, Mexico has the potential to become the region’s biggest fashion retail hub. According to Statista, the fashion market in Mexico is expected to grow annually by 7.6%.
The company’s success in Mexico can be attributed to its strong social media strategy and understanding of the local market. Shein leverages the power of online platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as offline fashion magazines, to better understand Mexican customers’ preferences. Additionally, the company has adapted to local payment methods, which has helped it connect with a larger customer base.
“While Shein’s expansion into Mexico and Brazil may contribute to its impressive annual revenue growth, it is essential for the company to balance its rapid growth with a commitment to environmental sustainability and fair labor practices,” said Retail Expert, Jeanel Alvarado.
As Shein continues to expand its presence in Mexico and Latin America, it remains to be seen how the company will address the ethical concerns surrounding its business practices. However, the move to establish a factory in Mexico signals a significant step towards diversifying its production and reducing its reliance on China.