Not-So-Fast Fashion

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What's going on?

Shein filed a new request to list on the public market, a bid to finally get its slow burn of a dream into production.

What does this mean?

Shein’s plans to bring algorithm-designed, faux-silk midi dresses to the public market were thwarted when war broke out in Ukraine. So instead of raising cash from everyday investors, the world’s biggest fashion retailer sidled up to private ones instead. But they turned out to be quite conservative: Shein’s last fundraising round won the company a $66 billion valuation, around a third lower than its first valuation of $100 billion from April 2022. That only whet Shein’s appetite, so the Chinese fast-fashion giant recently filed for an initial listing on the US stock exchange. Shein’s modus operandi of shilling low-cost items could be more enticing than ever now shoppers’ budgets are squeezed, so if it makes it to market this time, the fashionista may see that nine-figure valuation once more.

Why should I care?

Zooming out: A very bumpy catwalk.
Shein may be trying to strut its stuff for the world, but the audience is watching through their fingers. US investors are well aware of the sweatshop accusations and private-jet levels of pollution that are woven into Shein’s reputation. Plus, the Chinese government isn’t sold on the idea of foreign investors owning its biggest firms, and certainly doesn’t want them exposed to strict US regulatory scrutiny. Big Chinese internet firms get around that with complex offshore structures, but Shein’s planning something simpler: by setting up a headquarters in Singapore, the company’s hoping to hide its ties with the Chinese government. 

For markets: Money talks.
That said, Shein’s timing could hardly be better. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales got shoppers spending, and even if that’s temporary excitement, investors may be tempted to eye up online retailers again. Throw in promises of big bucks for shareholders, and the stateside detractors might be easily convinced.

Originally posted as part of the Finimize daily email.

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