Nov 17, 2023 - News

Atlanta designers launch global lines on Shein

The image to the left displays SHEIN X designer Veronica Ramirez. The right image displays her clothing design, which is inspired by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Veronica Ramirez's designs are inspired by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, represented by a model, right. Photos: Veronica Ramirez/Shein X

Fast-fashion giant Shein has teamed up with three Atlanta-area designers to bring their collections to shoppers around the globe.

Why it matters: The three designers are participating in the Singapore-based company's Shein X incubator program, which helps independent designers and artists with product development, manufacturing, marketing and supply chain logistics.

  • The women own the rights to their designs.

Driving the news: Axios Atlanta spoke with designers Kenya Freeman, Lauren Flagg, and Veronica Ramirez to learn more about their collections.

Veronica Ramirez: Ramirez, pictured above, says her latest designs are inspired by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

  • "As a Mexican designer, it was an absolute honor to be inspired by her, as I have been the minute I witnessed her in art history."
The left image displays designer Kenya Freeman. The right image displays a black dress she created.
Kenya Freeman, left, prints her own textiles for her collections. Photos: Kenya Freeman/Shein

Sylvia Mollie: Freeman's collection, Sylvia Mollie, includes prints from her own textiles in a fall series that includes cardigans and two-piece outfits. She's also putting together a spring collection with "fun, flirty" dresses in springtime colors.

  • "You work with Shein and they definitely keep you busy," she said.
The image on the left displays designer Lauren Flagg. The right image displays a white dress Flagg created.
Lauren Flagg, left, uses recycled materials to encourage sustainability. Photos: Lauren Flagg/Shein

Obviously Vintage: Flagg's new clothing line, Obviously Vintage, incorporates recycled fabrics, including the packaging itself.

  • "All of my items are upcycled pieces," she said. "We can still give you that same great quality and sustainable fashion at the same time."

Flashback: Ramirez says she's been into fashion design ever since she received a needle and thread in Mexico at age 7. "When I made it to high school, I realized I could make it a career," she said.

  • Flagg, a North Carolina native, moved from home to pursue fashion after graduating from the Art Institute of Raleigh–Durham. "I'm still a Southern country girl, so that big city life wasn't for me. Atlanta is a good mix of both."
  • Freeman moved to Atlanta for design college after she found her passion in a fashion merchandising course in high school.

Zoom out: Shein has taken the ecommerce world by storm — it's reportedly moving to launch an initial public offering in the U.S., with a targeted valuation upwards of $90 billion, according to Bloomberg — but not without controversy.

  • This year, House lawmakers called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to audit the company over accusations that its suppliers in China use forced labor, and the Better Business Bureau this week assigned Shein an "F" rating.

This summer, three California designers alleged in a federal lawsuit that Shein engages in "egregious" copyright infringement by copying and selling designs without permission from designers.

  • In a statement, Shein told Axios the allegations are "nothing but conjecture and conveniently placed buzzwords," and added that it has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

The bottom line: Shein X's Georgia designers said the company's decision to select them shows that Atlanta is a great place to grow in the fashion industry.

  • "Being a designer in the city of Atlanta is special," Freeman said. "We all support one another and know one another."
  • "Anybody who is scared to take that leap to go to New York or LA, I would say start here in Atlanta," Flagg said.

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