Chinese fast-fashion pureplay Shein exploded onto the fashion market in disruptive style, quickly becoming a well-known name among its core demographic of social media-savvy 16-to-25-year-olds.

The etailer, which sells womenswear, menswear and childrenswear, beauty products and homewear, was started in 2008 in Nanjing, China, by Chris Xu who continues to head up the business as CEO.

Its original domain name was with a focus on women’s clothing, before being renamed as Shein in 2015.

As well as its presence in the UK, Shein has dedicated online sites for the US, Italy, France, Spain, the Middle East, Australia and Russia, and ships to over 200 countries.

Shein has managed to be heard above the fast-fashion noise by raising the bar in social media marketing, engaging expertly with influencers across platforms. It boasted 20.8 million followers on Instagram, as of mid-2021, and 2 million on TikTok, driven by a plethora of Shein hashtags, and fans uploading photos of themselves showing off their ‘Shein Hauls’.

Although young shoppers have had the brand on their radar for a while, Shein’s emergence as a surprise contender for taking over TopShop in early 2021 - before the latter was snapped up by Asos – garnered it attention among a wider audience.

Offering fast-fashion at seriously low prices, and with continuous promises of discounts and deals, Shein does not have any permanent stores but has used pop ups in various cities to help bolster brand awareness.

Shein is a private company and does not share its financial figures.

Innovation rating: 3

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