Renowned Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has filed a lawsuit against Shein, alleging that the Chinese fast fashion giant is selling copycats of its widely popular “Mary Poppins” shoulder bag.
The lawsuit, filed in Tokyo, claims that certain Shein bags bear a strong resemblance to Uniqlo’s design, potentially harming the brand’s customer trust.
Uniqlo’s shoulder bag has become a viral sensation, with TikTok users showcasing its surprisingly large capacity. Uniqlo is demanding that Shein immediately halt the sale of the similar bags and seeks compensation for the damages caused.
On Tuesday, Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, announced that it had filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court against Shein Japan and its two subsidiaries at the end of December.
Online videos of the bag have amassed millions of likes in the past year, including humourous posts displaying its large storage capacity.
The bag, reminiscent of the magical bag from the 1964 Mary Poppins film, has gained significant popularity. In the UK, the nylon “round mini shoulder bag,” priced at £14.90, has reportedly become Uniqlo’s top-selling bag.
Founded in 2008 in China, Shein experienced a sales boom during the pandemic, driven by increased online shopping and its focus on social media marketing.
Shein’s website states that the company has nearly 10,000 employees globally and operates in over 150 countries. Currently headquartered in Singapore, Shein is rumoured to be considering a stock market debut in New York.
Shein faces criticism for its environmental impact and labour practices, despite its claim of efficient small-batch production and strict opposition to forced labor.
Small business owners have accused Shein online of copying their designs, but Shein maintains that it respects intellectual property rights.
Fast Retailing, Japan’s largest clothing retailer, opened the first Uniqlo store in 1984 and now runs approximately 2,500 stores worldwide, including many in China.
Uniqlo is known for its practical clothing in various colours, particularly specializing in thermals and coats.
Uniqlo’s recent financial report shows a significant profit increase, driven by international sales, and the company anticipates record profits in 2024.
However, Uniqlo’s leadership acknowledges that climate change might impact future sales of products like its fleece jackets.