Stylist Accuses Fast-Fashion Brand Shein of Stealing Her Face To Turn Into a Dress Design
Can Shein just not for once?
Picture it, you’re minding your business, doing your own thing, and not bothering anyone. You are just living your life to the best of your abilities. Then one day, you get a message on social media from a follower on TikTok: Shein has put your face on a dress.
What is Shein? It’s the final boss in the fast-fashion let’s-destroy-the-environment-in-the-pursuit-of-current-trends-at-too-low-prices, and personally, I’m not a fan. They frequently get accused (and sued) for copyright infringement, and look, there is just no way to make working conditions humane at the prices they charge, despite promises by Shein to do better.
According to a report from Fortune, “In China, workers are allowed to work up to eight hours a day, with three additional hours of overtime, and are promised at least one day off a week.” That same report says that an internal investigation by Shein (launched in response to a documentary’s findings) found massive violations of those labor laws.
The outlet writes:
Shein launched an investigation after U.K. Channel Four documentary Untold: Inside The Shein Machine alleged that workers were subject to 16-hour-long days, got one day off a month, and earned wages of around 4,000 yuan ($572) per month to produce hundreds of garments for the online retailer each day.
In an independent audit, commissioned by Shein and carried out by Intertek and TUVR, the company found that the workers at two of its factories were working 12.5- to 13.5-hour-long days, which it notes is “significantly less than claimed in the documentary,” but still more than what is legally permitted by local law.
People are working upwards of 12 hours per day, six days a week or more, for clothes that are ruined after a few washes, that are likely stolen IP from artists, or more germane to this story, the face of a woman who did not license her likeness to Shein. Cool! Let’s get to it.
Yes, that’s right, a personal stylist and designer named Tami—@sterk_acres on TikTok—was minding her business and then this happened:
As you can see, she has a very distinctive look: blue pompadour, eyeglasses, red lips. This is not a case of “oh it could be anyone.” She has style, and it was copped. More importantly, she doesn’t think it’s a coincidence, either:
Need more proof? Here she is, with the dress:
Come on, it’s obvious.
So, I had a couple of friends who were in the fashion industry in L.A. One was a vintage wholesaler in L.A. that contracted with another fast-fashion company, and she had an agreement with them that she would bring a certain number of pieces to them each month that they could cannibalize and copy and bring to market. Another friend designed textiles and frequently looked at other artists’ Instagrams for inspiration for her own work. My point is, this type of copying/”inspiration” happens frequently in the industry. Tami has 331.8k followers on TikTok and 12.1k followers on Instagram, so she has a following and a great, distinctive style. I don’t think this is far-fetched. I think Shein does such volume that a designer saw her, had a deadline and quota they had to meet, and thought they could get away with it because they probably do get away with it, usually. The same thing happened with Lularoe stealing prints.
This sucks for the person it happens to because a huge company that cares only about its bottom line is using your face—which in this specific case, is also part of a person’s business because she is a stylist—to make money. I would be furious, because there is no consent, and it’s just creepy that someone can do that to another human being. So let’s end this on a positive note, here’s a link to @sterk_acres‘s online shop, Sugs’ Shoppe if you want to support her, or just check out her style.
(featured image: Presley Ann/Getty Images for SHEIN)
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