Under the terms of the deal, SPARC group will take a minority stake in Shein. The partnership aims to leverage Shein’s e-commerce platform to give US customers greater access to high-quality, affordable fashion.

The agreement to take control of a third of SPARC Group is a joint venture that includes Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group.

The partnership is expected to expand SPARC Group’s distribution of Forever 21, adding value and variety for Shein’s extensive customer base. Shein’s global e-commerce platform currently serves 150 million online users. The partnership also offers the opportunity to test Shein customer-focused experiences in Forever 21 locations across the US including shop-in-shops, enabling return to store and other initiatives.

Shein’s determination to win in the US

For some time there has been speculation Shein is eyeing a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, and since the Chinese ultra-fast fashion firm has seen record profitability.

Of course, not everyone is a fan, and Shein has faced intense backlash in the US over sustainability and ethical concerns. In March a coalition launched a campaign against Shein to “educate” the US government and the public on how the fast fashion giant is allegedly committing human rights abuses and exploiting import laws.

Shein has been accused of exploiting the ‘de minimis loophole’ to export its goods into the US. As it stands the de minimis rule allows importers to avoid customs duties on incoming packages that are valued at less than $800 and a US Congress report published last month suggests Shein’s use of the rule minimises the likelihood of its packages being screened for Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) compliance.

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Subsequently, Shein moved to alleviate concerns and told the American Apparel & Footwear Association it wants to work together with Congress on de minimis policy reform.

A letter from Shein executive vice chairman Donald Tang said the company believes “the exemption needs a complete makeover.”

Partnering with a US firm, could go some way to helping Shein win over American consumers.

Shein-SPARC Group’s “shared vision”

While Shein has pioneered a new, on-demand way of engaging and meeting the needs of customers online, SPARC Group brings extensive retail and brand expertise. Together, Shein and SPARC Group plan to utilise their complementary platforms and expertise to accelerate product innovation, explore new business strategies, enhance customer experiences, and grow their presence in the marketplace.

“We are excited for the partnership with Shein as it reflects our shared vision of providing customers with unparalleled access to fashion at affordable prices,” said Marc Miller, CEO of SPARC Group. “By working together, we will provide even more innovative and trendsetting products to fashion enthusiasts around the world.”

“Shein is thrilled to have SPARC Group as a partner and minority shareholder and we look forward to finding new ways to delight our customers through the potential of this partnership,” said Donald Tang, Shein’s executive chairman. “The powerful combination of Simon’s [Property Group] leadership in physical retail, Authentic’s brand development expertise, and Shein’s on-demand model will help us drive scalable growth and together make fashion more accessible to all.”