To upload 6,000 new products every day with an average price of £5.70, Shein, the Chinese ultra-fast fashion behemoth, is outstripping ASOS at six-times its production rate – surrendering its ethics at a similar pace. Having already stolen from countless independent designers, underpaid its workers, and established its own network of landfills, the online giant has now turned its eyes towards fashion’s big hitters, namely Rick Owens, who has become the company’s latest rip-off victim.
Originally spotted by Matei Olteanu, and amplified by High Fashion Talk on Instagram, Shein is now shilling a pair of tracksuit bottoms, festooned in criss-cross, latticed shoelaces – a near identical copy of Rick Owens’ signature Mega Lace pieces. The designer’s trademark flourish has become a cult favourite among fans of twisted grunge, and can be seen across the trousers, jackets, and footwear of many Rick Owens collections, most recently SS20. “Yo. This is so freaking avant garde and quirky,” one user commented on the Shein selling page.
Aside from obvious distinctions in quality and construction, the Shein pants have been priced at £23, whereas the Rick Owens originals sell for £1550. It’s ironic, given that the company has just launched a reality competition to champion up-and-coming designers, though not unsurprising, given that individuals like Bailey Prado have had their “whole life” copied by Shein. And while this may be its most audacious design move yet, with 32.2 million active users and $10 billion in sales last year, it’s a seemingly impervious strategy, which continues to pay off.