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Shein Invests in Next-Gen Design Talent

Shein celebrates the second anniversary of its design incubator this month, having invested $55 million to date in emerging talent across the globe.

Launched in 2021, the Shein X program has seen almost 3,000 aspiring designers and artists from 20 European countries launch their own collections to international audiences, the China-based fast fashion firm said Wednesday.

The incubator’s curriculum shepherds students through the end-to-end process of bringing products to market, from product development to manufacturing, supply chain logistics and marketing, funded through the program. Designers retain rights to the designs created during the program, and the majority of sales profits are disbursed to creators, Shein said. So far, Shein X participants have created almost 2,000 collections and 25,000 garments, receiving $5.37 million in commissions.

Participants are also given access to one of the company’s most valuable assets—its data. Participants are trained on Shein’s up-to-the-minute analytics site, where they are able to keep tabs on, and assess, consumer demand. Designers are featured on the e-commerce juggernaut’s social media and marketing materials, as well as physical events like popups and exhibitions such as a Shein X fashion show in Paris and global fashion weeks.

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A Shein x Klarna pop-up event in Barcelona, Spain, June 2022.
A Shein x Klarna pop-up event in Barcelona, Spain, June 2022. Kike Rincon/Europa Press via Getty Images

While Shein X began with just seven designers, the company has accelerated the program and aims to onboard an additional 1,000 participants moving forward. The company said it envisions pairing these participants with established industry veterans for collaborative opportunities, as well as facilitating global travel exchanges.

 “A core pillar of Shein’s business model is to empower entrepreneurs,” chief operating officer Molly Miao said. “The Shein X program nurtures designers, helping them elevate their brands on the global stage.” The company is “dedicated to continuing our Shein X outreach and efforts amongst designer and artist communities around the world, taking another step forward in making the beauty of fashion accessible to all,” she added.

One such opportunity, announced this week, is a partnership with the Graduate Fashion Foundation, a non-profit that helps “bridge the gap between education and employment.” The foundation will support Shein X’s fashion design competition, where emerging European designers will compete for placement in Shein X’s Paris fashion show in June.