Uniqlo sues Shein over alleged dupe of viral shoulder bag

Uniqlo recently hit Shein with a lawsuit over the fast-fashion company selling dupes of its viral shoulder bag.

On 28 December, Uniqlo filed documents in the Tokyo District Court in Japan, according to a statement from Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing. In the filing, Uniqlo accuses Shein of creating overt copies of its Round Mini Shoulder Bag, which has become a viral success on TikTok. The company requested that the Chinese retailer’s operators - Roadget Business Pte, Fashion Choice Pte and Shein Japan - immediately cease all production of the “imitation products” and compensate the retailer for damages.

Uniqlo called for the “immediate cessation of sales of the imitation products, and compensation for damages incurred by the Company as a result of these sales”.

In another statement, the parent company added that an imitation product “significantly undermines the high level of customer confidence in the quality of the Uniqlo brand and its products”.

On the lawsuit, a Shein spokesperson told CNN that the company was “currently investigating this matter”. They added: “Shein respects the intellectual property rights of others and takes all claims of infringement seriously.”

The practical, crescent-shaped purse - which has been lauded for its androgynous look - was featured on Lyst’s Year of Fashion report in 2023. It’s also notably affordable, sold at just $19.90 in the US. Part of its popularity can be credited to TikTok, which led the bag to go viral and sell out multiple times throughout 2022 and 2023. From styling tips to “what’s in my bag” videos, videos starring the bag were garnering millions of views on the platform, with the hashtag #uniqlobag receiving more than 133.2mil views as of 17 January.

Fast Retailer cited the shoulder bag for sparking “considerable interest on social media” and expanding its reach among female and younger demographics, according to an investor report from the third quarter of 2023.

But as the bag reached new heights of popularity thanks to social media, Fast Retailing warned consumers of counterfeit versions. It said in a statement: “We are considering legal action against the companies that manufacture and sell the products.”

This isn’t the first time Shein has come under fire for copying the designs of other companies. Chrome Hearts sued the fast-fashion retailer in August 2023, alleging that the company was guilty of trademark infringement and unfair competition after it reportedly copied one of the luxury brand’s cross designs.

In December 2023, fellow Chinese fast-fashion brand Temu sued Shein, claiming that the company used aggressive and unlawful “mafia-style” tactics to undermine the competition. The companies reportedly have yet to reach a resolution.