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| 1 minute read

Fast fashion - the race is on to be the fastest of the fast - is the only way to succeed to resort to outright copying? Shein and H&M fight it out

H&M are suing Shein in Hong Kong for copyright infringement. The claim apparently relates to what H&M are claiming are copies of its clothes by Shein. Both Shein and H&M operate in what is known as the fast fashion sector. What seems clear is that there are different speeds of fast fashion and Shein accused of copying to get "their designs" out as quickly as they can.

Traditionally fashion designers have relied on copyright to protect their designs against copying. The first issue in this case is likely to be determining whether the designs that H&M say have been copied are original in the first place so they can qualify for copyright protection. This would rule out designs that are themselves minor reworking of previous designs for items of clothing. In the fashion world it is common for designers to take inspiration from the various trends and designs that are already on the market. Where does such inspiration turn into copying? If the court decides that copyright protection does exist in the H&M designs then there will have to be an analysis of whether the designs have been copied. 

It is likely that many parties active in the fast fashion (and in the regular speed fashion sector) will be interested to see what happens in this case. With a disrupter brand like Shein in the mix, the outcome of the case could have a significant impact on the fast fashion sector both in Hong Kong but also around the world.   

The Swedish fashion brand is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to stop Chinese online fast fashion retailer Shein from infringing on its copyright and trademarks, WWD reports.


fashion & retail, copyright, yes