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‘Shein Stole My Design’: Fitness Influencer Cries Foul Over Lookalike Skirt

A popular fitness influencer and entrepreneur called out Shein over allegations that the fast-fashion giant stole the design for one of her skirts.

Cassey Ho, CEO and lead designer of the Popflex activewear brand, took to social media to accuse Shein of plagiarizing her Pirouette Skort.

“They stole my design. SHEIN STOLE MY DESIGN,” Ho said in an Instagram post. “I wish I could say ‘I can’t believe it!!!’ but actually, I can. I’ve seen numerous videos and articles written about Shein straight up robbing independent designer’s designs, but guess what? As much as the comments may show sympathy and anger, it’s the dollar that speaks the loudest in the end.”

The post showed multiple side-by-side views of the original black skirt sold by Popflex, next to the alleged stolen skirt, both of which have a pocket to carry a smartphone. The post also includes a sketch of the Pirouette Skort, as well as a tech pack detailing aspects of the mesh skirt’s design.

The accusations levied by the California-based designer are just the latest in a common trend—dozens of small businesses and individual fashion designers, as well as high-profile companies like Dr. Martens and Stussy, have sued the behemoth over copyright and trademark infringement, and other related complaints.

Ho has not indicated whether she intends to take legal action against the rapidly growing fashion firm, and has not yet responded to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

Shein did not return Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

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The influencer shared a lengthier version of the Instagram post on her popular online fitness lifestyle blog Blogilates, detailing the sourcing, production and design processes and costs that went into the Pirouette Skort, which sells for $60 on Popflex, while the alleged knockoff version costs just $13 on Shein.

“[Shein] stole my design, so they didn’t have to pay me for the trend prediction, the idea or the viral videos I made. They didn’t have to take any risk,” Ho said. “They didn’t have to pay my technical designers who made the tech pack and who graded all the sizes. I did. They didn’t pay my patternmaker to figure out how to make the pattern. I did. They didn’t pay my samplemaker to make the numerous samples we tested over a course of several months. I did.”

Among her claims, Ho said that Shein is not using the quality fabric that Popflex took “months” to source, and that the e-commerce giant is most likely not using as much fabric to produce the the skirt.

“Combined with the complicated craftsmanship that goes into the making of this specific design, the raw price per Pirouette Skort without counting steps 1-6 and without counting freight, duties, taxes, etc. is already beyond $13 a piece,” Ho said.

Ho, who served as the model for the photos of the skirt, even noted that Shein took an “extra calculated step” to cast an Asian model to emulate her in their images.

In the diatribe, she pointed to a June 2021 tweet from designer Mariama Diallo, founder of the women’s clothing line Sincerely Ria, who called out Shein for copying her label’s look and designs.

Ho also went after the Shein x 100K Challenge, a four-episode “Project Runway”-like series that saw emerging designers battle to have their merchandise featured in the e-tailer’s collections. In particular, Ho attacked Shein’s insistence on referring to the series as a “philanthropic” initiative.

“There is nothing philanthropic about this show. Shein X 100K is basically a job interview where candidates fight for money and then help Shein make even more money. Philanthropy is about giving for the sake of others, not for yourself,” Ho said. “I don’t know how much they paid Khloé [Kardashian] to barely be in the show but I would bet you it was more than the $100,000 those 30 designers were fighting for.”

On Tuesday, Ho shared a TikTok video asking her followers to #boycottshein, pointing to the quality differences between the Pirouette Skort and the skirt sold on Shein. For example, the video indicated that the Popflex item was made with more expensive, performance-appropriate flatlock stitching, while Shein’s product used cheaper single and double net stitching not designed for performance purposes.

The video called out some of Shein’s other alleged instances of plagiarism, and went after reports of the company’s unsatisfactory working conditions in its factories—allegations that even angered The Rolling Stones enough to demand that Shein quickly sever their merchandising deal.


DO NOT BUY FROM SHEIN!!! 😡 Yeah their clothes are cheap but that’s bc their business is built on stolen designs from small brands and they pay their workers mere pennies per garment. The more you buy from shein the more people you end up hurting. Is it worth it??? If you want affordable clothes shop clearance, sample sales, and thrift stores. I wrote an entire blog post on my shein dilemma on Blogilates(dot)com detailing out everything I spoke to here plus more. I was really mad so I spilled the tea and it was PIPING HOT. ☕️🫖😡 #boycottshein #sheinstolemydesign #fashiondesigner #entrepreneur

♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box – takaya

Blogilates has a wide following, with the YouTube account accumulating 7.93 million subscribers and 2.2 billion total views. Blogilates, which also serves as Ho’s personal brand across social media, has generated 3.4 million TikTok followers and 2.3 million Instagram followers.

Ho initially featured the Pirouette Skort in a YouTube video in August. The video’s 26 million views and 2.1 million likes helped the garment completely sell out in “a matter of days,” the entrepreneur said.

After seeing the initial response to the skort, Ho made some redesigns for comfort purposes, such as removing the front seam, lengthening the back of the skirt and removing the elastic from the top waistband to prevent pinching. Popflex rereleased the Pirouette Skort on Jan. 5.

Closing her blog post, Ho called for the recent resale entrant to remove the Pirouette Skort from its website and to never steal designs from her or other independent creatives again.

Ho said she hopes “that I can help shed some light onto this completely messed up excuse of a business, and help you find better ways to spend your hard-earned money. I am not saying you have to buy my stuff, but I am just saying that you shouldn’t support a business that robs from hard working people and then sells it back to you for profit.”

The controversy comes as Shein got a massive win for its Latin America business. The company, once valued at $100 billion, appointed Marcelo Claure as chairman of Shein Latin America, where he will oversee the company’s strategy and stakeholder affairs in the region.

Claure, the founder and CEO of global investment firm Claure Group and a former CEO of SoftBank Group International, is giving Shein yet another cash infusion with a $100 million investment. In the role, Claure is leading the formation of an advisory board for the region to help provide local expertise.