Chris Xu: Who is he, Challenges Faced, Controversies and More

Harshit Verma Harshit Verma
Mar 19, 2022 11 min read
Chris Xu: Who is he, Challenges Faced, Controversies and More

All over the world, the clothing industry is worth thousands of billions of dollars. You go to your nearest market and you will find that clothes are the items that are evergreen in nature. Always present and omnipresent. Every business-minded person when thinking of a business idea, his/her first choice is to choose clothes. This is true most of the time. There are huge players and then there are normal players in the clothing segment. However, The demand is such that every brand has enough to fill its pockets.

China is the most populous country in the world. Everything that The world needs, is needed more in china. It is safe to say that China is a value magnifier or a demand manufacturer. One of the clothing brands in China is called Shein. It is a famous brand and is founded by a very amazing personality. The founder of Shein is Chris Xu. This article talks about the company Shein and the founder who is often regarded as the torchbearer for this mysterious clothing brand. Let us have a closer look.

The Brain Behind Fashion Retail, Shein
A Small Brief About Shein
Inception of Shein
The Core of Shein - Fashion Predictions
Controversies Faced by Shein
Emergence of Shein

The Brain Behind Fashion Retail, Shein

There is a reason why we began talking about the founder before we start talking about what he has actually found. Chris Xu is the founder of Shein, he is a popular entrepreneur in the world and specifically in China. He is the torchbearer for the brand from the initial stages. He built the brand so mysteriously that he is respected for the vision and works that he had pulled off.

He has achieved so much significance in the fashion industry that he becomes no less than a pioneer in this industry. Chris has been an entrepreneur who has been able to start from zero and scratch and then make a name for himself. Interestingly, the person behind Shein is an mysterious man. He has a name and the work that he has done, that speaks for itself and nothing else.

By the term, nothing else, we mean that the man does not even have a Wikipedia page. This is super mysterious and intriguing at the same time. He is super hideous on the internet. As the world becomes smaller and smaller with each passing day with uprising technology, he remains in his mystery palace. According to us, all this blackout about his information and interviews have been intentional.

All the information that is related to Chris is hidden intentionally all over the internet. The reason behind this agenda can be the security and integrity of the person's name in public. However, there can be multiple more reasons for doing that.

Let us have a glance at his career. This is by the way rare information. Chris Xu was born in 1984 in the city of Shandong. He graduated from the University of Qingdao in the field of science and technology. He graduated in 2007. Soon after graduation, he moved to Nanjing to work in an integrated marketing consulting company.

Nanjing Aodao Information Technology Co, in 2008, where he specialised in SEO. This is also a fact about Chris Xs that he is an expert in SEO or search engine optimisation. While working in Nanjing integrated marketing consulting company he learnt everything possible about SEO. He did get a fair bit of exposure in the organisation of selling and commercial activities.

After learning the nuances of commercial selling of Chinese goods to the international world, he thought of an opportunity. He left the company following that vision or the opportunity. At the inception, he started building this dream with two other entrepreneurs who were now the co-founders. The idea was to ship cheap items online to every person. Basically an online retail store of the first kind.

In choosing the items to sell, Chris found out the huge demand that wedding dresses operate with. He discovered that these were one of the most highly sought products that were demanded by international markets. These dresses could become the first segment of products that the company will offer. However, there were some issues too in the first place.

Foreign customers were not buying these dresses and the reason was conversion rates. Customers were not able to convert money to buy their desired products. That was the issue that he thought to solve and started to shift all his focus in finding solutions to that. With the money earned from selling wedding dresses in the country, he began building SheInside, which is now famously known as Shein.

According to QQ news, once Xu realised that the only thing stopping international customers from buying products was currency conversion, he 'vanished' with his entire SEO team.

Let us now focus on the brand that this mysterious man has built for the world. The fast-fashion retailer ‘Shein’ is here with its journey that is full of controversies.

A Small Brief About Shein

‘SheInside' was the primary name of this organisation and gradually the name became Shein to the world. Even though the first sort of dresses that Chris picked were wedding dresses, they diversified into a lot more domains afterwards.

They diversified into summer wear like bikinis and swimwear which was designed for the summers. They were low price and that was a huge differentiating factor for customers. It became the first thought of girls when they thought of summer wear and as summers approached every year.

The journey was not easy though, there were many ups and downs in the way. They caused several controversies at the beginning pointing to the cheapness of the products. There were allegations of child labour, environmentalism and the quality of the clothes. There is a mystery of the process with which the company operates. Despite all the problems, the company has been able to maintain itself as a trustable brand with its audience.

Inception of Shein

The story of Shein begins when Chris Xu thought of starting out his own venture. Before starting out with Shein, Chris owned a successful wedding dress company and gave it up all, to begin with, a new venture. It was in the initial stages when the name “SheInside” was chosen.

It was later in 2015 when the name was changed to Shein as the efforts of branding grew and as the brand emerged as a favourite destination for clothing. The United States was the place where the company was widely successful and still is the place where most of the revenues come from.

The story really started when an American born graduate gave up his business of wedding clothes in search of building a sustainable clothing brand. They acquired the domain name called sheinside.com and primarily focussed on women's clothing. In 2015 the name was changed and renamed to Shein. It now focussed on the overseas markets and began riding its way into the fashion industry. Which proved to be fruitful in the future.

Through all the ups and downs, it has managed to become a brand in the clothing world. The United States has always been a really good market for these guys. The United States still is Shein’s biggest market. It ships to almost the whole world. It has revenue streams from 220 countries with websites built for Europe, the middle east, Australia and the United States has been ignited by a series of funding rounds. That was the series E funding for the company that happened in the pandemic year 2020. With this funding in hand, the company got a decent valuation that exceeds the 15 billion dollars mark.

Speaking of the nice valuation, it is also noted that the revenues are not made public. The revenues are in some excess of 10 billion dollars. Which is a really pretty number and proves satisfactory growth.

Taking in mind that this number estimate was coming in the pandemic year which was the most difficult for companies. Not many people were buying new clothes to go out. It was all lockdowns and virus precautions. These amazing numbers really attract Asian investors and international venture capitalists and private equity houses among its capital structure supporters.

The Core of Shein - Fashion Predictions

For most of the time, Shein is identified with clothes and as fashion retail, its core is just identification and predictions. It is often mentioned and said that Shein as a company is deeply obsessed with identifying hot fashion and trends. The company is often seen to predict the type of clothes, fabrics and style statements that will mostly go viral in the coming dates. It has even been reported that it has a faster fashion cycle than the Zara. It has a good social media activeness index and markets heavily on Instagram and manages to continue that trend across social media platforms. It tries to make an impression of a Weibo friendly image for attainable and accessible fashion clothing across all the social media.

As mentioned before, the brand has seen ups and downs in the same proportions of magnitude. The success of this brand does not come easy. It has had many incidents that have shaken the base of the company. For instance, the company was condemned to list a pendant that was shaped like a swastika. The problem and the error was later apologised profusely.

The products are all over social media and they have managed to create a brand image for themselves. Shein uses celebrities as well as fashion influencers to elevate the vision and create an image for the clothing line. Most of the operations are online and they do have offline stores too.

The branding from this company has elevated the low quality and low-cost reputation that was allegedly established in the beginning. They have managed things well even during the pandemic. They had an event hosted called SHEINTogether which was streamed globally in May 2020. Artists like Katy Perry, Rita Ora were roped in for the show.

They still manage the repute that they have built over the years. The cloth brand that started in China went from being homegrown to becoming a key player in the clothing segment in the world. Before 2014, Shein didn’t even have its own supply chain. This is mysterious in all senses but it is also true that it is sheer hard work and consistency from the brand’s side. Let us catch a glimpse of the marvellous emergence in the world today. First, let us see the potholes in their way of work.

Controversies Faced by Shein

One of the biggest controversies that the clothing brand started was child labour and abuse. The claim comes after customers begin questioning the cheap products that the company was able to produce. There were allegations of child abuse and child labour to be involved in the matter. Even though, The website of Shein and in all the legal announcements of Shein, the company has maintained to announce that they are strictly against any sort of child labour.

One other concern which concerned consumers all over was carbon emissions. A report mentioned that they keep all their emissions in check and that the magnitudes are within limits. Fast fashion is a subject line that can have a lot of pain points. The fact that it is fact, also makes it full of residuals. These residuals are mostly harmful to nature. If a brand is able to manufacture quality with less price, they face allegations of child labour, which happened with the clothing brand Shein.

“Shein is one of the only large retailers that orders 100 pieces or less for new products to help eliminate dead stock - which makes up 10% of the carbon emissions across the entire supply chain for the apparel industry. Shein is fully committed to upholding high labour standards across the entire supply chain and to improving the lives of workers in the global supply chain by supporting national and international efforts to end forced labour.” A company’s spokesperson explained

The other thing which was pointed out by consumers and critics was that the brand is super secretive. Following the products which it goes by, Shein is a fast-fashion retailer, it maintains all the secrecy in the world. Even the information about the founder of the company is rarely found on the internet. Social media and websites are maintained properly but there are no guest and news appearances. This opaqueness by a brand raises many eyebrows.

Overall, Shein (previously She Inside) is a complete mystery. No phone number, no email and certainly no press contact was to be found online. Even the name of its founder remains a total enigma, as El Mundo reports. This seemingly opaque company relies mostly on digital marketing and bloggers to get you hooked on their products, rather than divulging anything about their supply chain transparently. - Euronews reported.

Emergence of Shein

It is amazing to notice that the brand didn’t have its own supply chain up until 2014. They used to buy their clothes directly from Guangzhou’s Shisanhang Garment Market. It is a wholesale market in China that is famous for the clothing segment. Soon when the company began running operations, it was hit with strong demand. Watching the demand trend, they soon realised that they will have to become self-reliant in everything. From getting their own supply chain to managing shipment and everything else.

Realising this, preparations were made to go more independent. Chris created a team, or we should say assembled a design team. It was an in-house department that works within the specified locale. Within the first two years, the team expanded and there were now 800 people in the design team. This move was not only focused to improve designs but also to save time. The design team made the designs and prototyping efficient and thus rapid. This ensures that time is saved and it lies with the company's goal of fast fashion. This has also generated a good demand for its new launches.

Adding to the above, the company has also initiated timely payments of the products that it offers to china. Getting payment in time was a rarity in China but Shein doesn’t go with it. With this effect, Shein moved its operations and supply chain from Guangzhou to Panyu in 2015. Taking forward this effect, all the factories that operate under the brand have to relocate their factories for cost control measures.

The year of relocation of factories was also the year in which the brand entered the Middle East market. The sales were big even in the initial stages. The revenues for fiscal 2016, Shein earned 617 million dollars in revenue. In 2017 those revenues soared 1.5 billion dollars.

​​Market share data from Earnest shows that Shein began 2021 with 13% of total Fast Fashion sales, trailing traditional leader H&M. Since January, Shein continued to gain share and now leads with 28% of the Fast Fashion market, with Zara the only other brand growing share during that period. - Earnest

The future plans for this venture are even more optimistic. They want to include mobile payments into their operations and they want to get more into the supply chain finance division. In the modern world today, they are also hoping to do more advertising to market products. Nonetheless, they are also looking forward to adding more brick and mortar business centres out there. As retail stores also add a lot of magnitude to the revenues. All this growth and emergence from nowhere is not magical, even though it is mysterious but it also acts as proof of work.


Shein Success Story | Fashion Shopping | Chris Xu
Shein was founded by Chris Xu in the year 2008. Read on for Shein’s business model, revenue, growth, and its ban in India.

Conclusion

Clothing is one of the most favourite items in the world. People love to dress up and that is the basic thought that works behind the scenes of the fashion industry. Fast fashion is the new trend that companies try to capitalise on. They are trends that come and go. This might seem easy but it is a lot of work that goes into fast fashion. Zara is a fast-fashion retailer and Shein also comes on the list. A lot of companies are built from the fashion industry. In fact, Fashion is really a big strong word.  

We discussed a lot about Shien and its emergence as one of the leaders in the market today. The brain behind the brand is Chris's and he is as mysterious as a Hollywood movie spy. The zeal that the company shows is indefinitely inherited from Chris Xu’s vision in the mission. He is one of the most hard-working and well sought after entrepreneurs in the land of China.

With almost no fingerprints whatsoever on the internet. He has been a learner for most of his life and he definitely thinks with first principles. Let alone the business accomplishments, he has practical knowledge and a way of looking at things. It is not a fast skill to learn but is built over time.

FAQs

Who is Chris Xu?

Chris Xu is an SEO expert and the founder and CEO of mysterious fashion e-commerce website, Shein.

Who is the CEO of Shein?

Chris Xu is the founder and CEO of Shein.

How did Chris Xu start Shein?

Chris Xu used to sell wedding dresses, after looking at the popularity he thought of starting his own fashion retail company. He started SheInside with his team and later changed the name to Shein.

Must have tools for startups - Recommended by StartupTalky

Subscribe to StartupTalky

Get the latest insights delivered to you right in your inbox

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to StartupTalky.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to StartupTalky.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.