Uniqlo sues Shein for allegedly copying its viral bag

(CNN) — Japanese brand Uniqlo has sued Shein over allegations that the Chinese fast fashion retailer is selling knockoffs of its viral shoulder bag.

Japanese giant Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo and Theory, said in a statement that the shape of the “knockoff products” sold by Shein look “very similar” to Uniqlo’s Mini Round Shoulder Bag, which went viral on TikTok and other social media platforms . In 2022 and 2023, to the point of selling out several times.

The cross-body crescent bag, which cost just $20, was so popular that it made headlines around the world and took first place in the ranking. Among the most popular products of the fashion technology company list in the first quarter of 2023.

But the item’s popularity also prompted a wave of counterfeit products, prompting Uniqlo to warn on its website that it was investigating alleged copies and could take legal action.

According to Fast Retailing’s statement, its lawsuit against Shein was filed in Tokyo on December 28 and names three operators of the brand (Roadgate Business Pte., Fashion Choice Pte. and Shein Japan).

“It is demanded to immediately stop the sale of counterfeit products and to compensate for the losses suffered by the company as a result of these sales.”

The statement said that the sale of these counterfeit goods has “significantly” diminished customer confidence in the “Uniqlo brand and the quality of its products”, and that Fast Retailing takes a “firm stance” against any infringement of its intellectual property. Adopts.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for Sheen said the company is “currently investigating this matter.”

“Sheen respects the intellectual property rights of others and takes all claims of infringement seriously,” it added.

The shoulder bag first began circulating on TikTok in 2022 and continued to gain popularity through 2023, with video creators praising its versatility, roominess, and affordability.

The most viral TikToks about bags have received millions of views, ranging from style tips to “what’s in my bag” videos, unboxings, and item reviews. As of Wednesday, the #uniqlobag hashtag has been viewed more than 133.2 million times on TikTok.

In its third quarter 2023 investor report, the fast retailer credited the shoulder bag for sparking “considerable interest on social media” and expanding its customer base among women and younger shoppers.

This is not the first time Sheen has faced legal action or controversy. Last year, three graphic designers sued the retailer in the United States for alleged copyright infringement and extortion, alleging that Shein had sold exact copies of their designs.

At the time, a Sheen spokesperson said the company would “vigorously defend us against this lawsuit and any baseless claims.”

And in December, Shein was sued by rival Teemu, also a Chinese-owned e-commerce site, alleging that Shein used aggressive and illegal tactics to thwart competition. This was the latest development in the ongoing legal battle between the two.


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