Fast-fashion giant Shein plans Mexico factory: Sources

Shein was founded in China and manufactures most of its products there, but is seeking to diversify. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK – Online fashion giant Shein is exploring plans to build a factory in Mexico as one of its manufacturing hubs outside China, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the company faces increased scrutiny from US lawmakers and looks to expand its Latin America footprint.

The factory, which will make Shein products and is part of the retailer’s push to localise production, could shorten shipping time and cut distribution costs for customers in Latin America. In April, Shein said it will build a manufacturing network in Brazil to serve as a global customer base.

Shein was founded in China and manufactures most of its products there, but is seeking to diversify. The company sells US$10 (S$13.50) dresses and US$5 tops and has taken market share from other retailers of affordable fashion.

Now based in Singapore, Shein competes with PDD Holdings’ Temu, which sells low-priced items ranging from clothing to electronics from China in the United States.

Shein and Temu face growing scrutiny from the US Congress over what some lawmakers describe as their exploitation of US trade laws. Shein has also come under fire in markets, including India and Brazil, for its supply chain links to China.

A final location for the Mexico site has not been decided, said the sources, who requested anonymity as the discussions are private.

Shein will use funds from its recent capital raise of US$2 billion from investors, including Mubadala and Sequoia China, for the expansion as it eyes a US initial public offering (IPO). Despite a valuation cut to US$66 billion in its latest funding round, the retailer still posts an annual revenue growth of 40 per cent, one of the sources added.

Shein declined to comment on the expansion, but said it is committed to localisation as it adds new markets.

“Shein’s localisation strategy allows us to shorten delivery times to customers while expanding product variety and supporting local economies,” Mr Marcelo Claure, chairman of Shein Latin America, said in an e-mailed statement.

Shein is continuing to explore “nearshoring options”, he added, referring to manufacturing closer to the point of sale.

Shein recently offered an online marketplace platform in Brazil, allowing third-party merchants to sell their own goods on the Shein app and website. A similar marketplace will be launched next in the US before rolling out globally.

In April, a federal commission released a report criticising Shein and Temu for their use of “de minimis”, a trade exemption that allows the companies to avoid tariffs by shipping packages valued at less than US$800 directly to US customers. The report also criticised Shein for sourcing cotton from China’s Xinjiang region, which is banned in the US due to ties with Uighur forced labour.

Shein has denied that it ships from the Xinjiang region. Temu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

A bipartisan group of two dozen US representatives in May called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to halt Shein’s IPO until the company verifies it does not use forced labour, Reuters reported.

“We are voluntarily cooperating with the committee and are committed to working together on this matter,” said a Shein spokesman, adding that the company is “committed to respecting human rights and adhering to local laws and regulations” in each market it operates in. REUTERS

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