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Shein, a Chinese fast fashion retailer, is a hit with American teens Quartz

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If you don’t know Shein, a China-based online fast fashion retailer, chances are you’re not a teenager.

The company has attracted a young and growing fan base with the constant deluge of trendy and inexpensive new clothes that it is posting online and through its app, as well as with its aggressive social media marketing. He advertises a lot on platforms such as Facebook, maintains a network of influencers who promote him on TikTok and Instagram, and regularly reposition customer photos to entice them to share his clothes online. Over the past year, celebrities like Katy Perry and Lil Nas X performed at events that Shein broadcasts to buyers.

Whatever tensions exist between the U.S. and Chinese governments, U.S. buyers don’t fear the retailer. Shein twice ranked second after Amazon as the preferred shopping site for high-income American teens in a biannual survey of American teens by Piper Sandler, an investment firm. In the latest episode, which featured some 7,000 American teens, 7% of high-income teens chose Shein as their favorite website for shopping.

This is well behind the 56% who chose Amazon. But Shein has moved ahead of well-known names like Nike and Urban Outfitters, and his share is growing steadily. For the first time, it also broke into the top 10 favorite clothing brands listed by teens.

A Chinese company with global ambitions

Shein claims to release hundreds to thousands of new items every day, taking advantage of China’s rapid manufacturing to offer a wide variety of styles at low prices. He sells clothes like halter tops and cropped t-shirts for under $ 10 and floral print dresses for under $ 30.

It also manufactures clothing for men and children, but women are its main audience. Her Instagram feed is almost exclusively female, often with a bare stomach. While customers sometimes complain online about late and poor quality deliveries, the issues haven’t scared buyers away.

Shein was founded in 2008 by Chris Xu, described as a Chinese-American graduate from the University of Washington in a 2013 press release, when Shein was still using his original name, Sheinside. (He changed the name in 2015.) A Shein’s recent profile (paywall) in the Business of Fashion outlet noted that it also went through Sky Xu or Yangtian Xu.

The private company is notoriously opaque and provides little information on its sales. But in a WeChat 2019 publication, he said sales for the year reached 20 billion yuan (about $ 2.8 billion), the South China Morning Post reported. Last year, Chinese tech news site LatePost said Shein revealed in an internal meeting that sales had exceeded 40 billion yuan (link in Chinese). He also closed a round of funding that valued him at over $ 15 billion.

Although based in China, Sheins focuses on outside the country. It mainly targets Europe, America, Australia and the Middle East as well as other consumer markets, according to his site. In October, Reuters reported that Shein was now the world’s largest exclusively online fashion company, measured by sales of own-brand products, citing data from market research firm Euromonitor.

The company’s lack of stores may have been a boon over the past year, when the pandemic has closed stores around the world. While many fashion companies with large brick-and-mortar businesses have suffered, online retailer sales have skyrocketed. Shein is among those who appear poised to cash in on the overfeeding of e-commerce pandemics, especially if American teens are any indication.



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