The e-commerce brand founded on throwaway clothing culture and shadowy supply chains has been campaigning to legitimize its business for months.
E-commerce goliath SHEIN is reportedly aiming for a $90 billion IPO. It’s a stunning number, not only because of the recent political fire that the company has seen but also because it’s strikingly higher than the company’s recent private valuation, which has allegedly dropped below $60 billion. Regardless, SHEIN is pushing forward. It’s a trajectory that American consumers are propelling despite the company’s shadowy supply chains.
Back during the pandemic, SHEIN saw sales rocket in the U.S. In the process, the company normalized rock-bottom prices that were dramatically lower than other fast fashion brands. Whether SHEIN can maintain its chokehold on the apparel industry remains to be seen as other Chinese e-commerce brands like Temu enter the U.S. retail space. Regardless, SHEIN has cultivated a toxic culture of disposable clothing underwritten by abusive labor practices.
Originally a Chinese company now based in Singapore, SHEIN has concentrated its recent efforts into distancing itself from these beginnings, urging Capitol Hill and Wall Street to view it as detached from the political mire that is U.S.-China relations.
As the Financial Times spotlights in an interview with the company’s Executive Chairman David Tang, SHEIN has spent more than $1.5 million on lobbying so far this year, a $280,000 increase from last year. Regardless, as much as the company is throwing at reshaping its narrative, it hasn’t been able to shake forced labor allegations and criticism of its de minimis trade loophole abuse. And a recent public relations influencer trip was an epic fail that won’t be fading from memory fast either.
Nonetheless, SHEIN is continuing fast fashion brand buyouts to legitimize the company. Over the past several months, it’s gobbled up American mall mainstay Forever 21 and British brand Missguided. Now, it’s apparently gunning for Topshop.
It’s unclear if SHEIN campaign to legitimize its business ahead of its IPO will work, but political scrutiny certainly hasn’t died down.
But while we’re talking about retail, I have to take a moment to plug the upcoming release of AAM’s tenth annual Made in America Holiday Gift Guide. On Nov. 20, we’ll unveil our list of more than 200 companies from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that are keeping their products American-made. This is your opportunity to vote for American manufacturers with your wallet!