Online fashion retailer Shein has come under fire on social media after a country music band claimed they had stolen one of their merchandise designs.
Katie Bailey, a member of the Charleston-based Southbound 17, shared a video on TikTok explaining her dilemma and showing off the t-shirt she designed for the band and a nearly identical version that was being sold on the Shein website.
The two designs featured the band’s name, as well as a vintage car, bright colours, the names of songs from Southbound 17’s new EP (Somewhere in the Neon) and even some song lyrics.
In her TikTok video, which has been watched more than 300,000 times, 26-year-old Katie said: “Shein has been stealing my band’s merch and profiting off of it for the past four months.
“Hey y’all my name is Katie, I’m in the band Southbound 17 and this year we’re releasing a new EP and with that EP we’ve been rolling out some cool new merch.
“This week we’ve been doing some giveaways and fun things like that, but come to find out, I woke up to a link this morning from my best friend Claire, that she got from her cousin, the company Shein that sells worldwide has been selling our design for the past four months without our knowledge.
“They’re right under 100 picture reviews at the moment, so that means they have sold well over 100 shirts to people.
“Fortunately it appears they have stopped selling it because their stock has sold out, of course, that means nothing to us because the damage has been done.
“I can’t even imagine how much they profited off of a design they had nothing to do with.”
Katie goes on to explain how she initially drew the design for the T-shirt and shows off the original sketch she made in a different clip.
She tells how this artwork was shared only with a local digital artist from the website 99 Designs (@triagus_nd on Instagram ) and he did the digital graphic for them, before they got it screen printed.
The band, also comprised of Jacob Simmons, 24, and Jack Austen, 24, believe their design was taken from a picture @triagus_nd shared on social media a few months ago.
They say they are currently speaking with a copyright lawyer about the issue and the trademark they have on their band name.
In another video, Katie films herself receiving the shirt from Shein and trying it on to see how it compares to their version.
“Y’all are wondering why I bought this,” she says. “I really wanted some tangible evidence.
“I wanted to feel it for myself and see the quality, because I mean, at the end of the day, our name is out there with a tonne of people wearing it and I just kind of want to test the quality for myself.”
Her conclusion is that it’s not as soft as their one, the graphic placement is “kind of odd” and it drowns her frame once on – despite being a size small.
After their videos went viral, the band said that there is one positive thing to have come out of this ordeal – their music has reached a lot of new people.
They said: “The silver lining is that the TikTok actually ended up exposing a lot of new people to our music, and a lot of nice people actually wanted to buy the real shirt from us.
“It is just a bummer that big companies like Shein steal from small artists because they know they can get away with it. They ended up messaging us and basically saying that it wasn’t their fault. They blamed a third-party vendor and took down the listing. However, when we asked about remaining inventory or profits they made, they declined to respond.
“We recently found our shirt design listed on another site called Romwe. The weird thing is that on this shirt, the lyrics in the banner on the bottom are incorrect and don’t make any sense. We have tried to get in contact with them to remove the listing, but they keep dodging it.”