Fast-fashion giant Shein is once again in the legal spotlight, this time facing a lawsuit from Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M). The litigation, which has been ongoing since 2021, accuses Shein of copyright infringement. This marks another chapter in Shein’s growing list of legal battles, with the company already facing multiple lawsuits for alleged design theft and racketeering.
Shein, a Chinese-based online retailer known for its affordable prices and quick adoption of trends, has been accused of stealing designs from independent designers and larger brands alike. In the current lawsuit, H&M alleges that Shein has infringed on their designs in multiple instances. The case, filed in Hong Kong, seeks unspecified damages and an injunction to stop Shein from further copyright and trademark infringements.
This is not the first time Shein has faced such allegations. Earlier in July, three U.S.-based designers sued Shein in California, accusing the company of racketeering and stealing fashion designs. The plaintiffs claimed that Shein sold “exact copies” of their work, violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
In addition to these lawsuits, Shein has also been accused of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by making unjust agreements with its suppliers. According to a complaint by Temu, Shein allegedly forced suppliers to sign loyalty oaths, promising not to do business with Temu, under threats of retaliation.
Despite these allegations, Shein maintains that it takes all claims of infringement seriously and takes swift action when complaints are raised by valid IP rights holders. However, critics argue that the company’s pattern of misconduct involves committing new copyright and trademark infringements every day.
Meanwhile, H&M has had its share of legal troubles as well. The company faced a ‘greenwashing’ class-action lawsuit over alleged misleading and false marketing of its ‘sustainable’ clothing line. The suit alleged that H&M’s marketing for its “Conscious” collection deceived consumers into believing that the products were sustainable and environmentally friendly.
As the legal battles continue, the fast-fashion industry is under scrutiny for its practices. With Shein’s rapid rise and its increasing number of lawsuits, the question remains whether the company can sustain its growth while addressing these serious allegations.