Fast-fashion retailer Shein may finally be on the brink of going public.
The company filed confidentially in the U.S. for its initial public offering, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. (In a statement to Axios after the report, Shein denied what it called “rumors.”)
A Shein IPO would be years in the making
Nonetheless, the company has been making moves toward an IPO since at least 2020. The startup, based in China at the time, shelved those plans after rising geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and its headquarters country. In 2022, Shein’s IPO plans were once again put on the back burner due to strict and complex regulatory barriers imposed by the China Securities Regulatory Commission on companies that want to go public offshore.
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China has since promised to change its regulatory standards. While keeping its supply chain and warehouse facilities in China, Shein last year moved its headquarters to Singapore, which has laxer regulatory and expansion laws.
In March, rumors swirled that the company was in talks to go public in the U.S. again. In May, the company raised $2 billion at a $66 billion valuation — making it, at the time, the fourth-highest-valued unicorn on The Crunchbase Unicorn Board.
And now, here we are. If Shein goes public this year, it will be in a much different world than 2020. E-commerce, fueled by the pandemic, made the international fashion brand wildly popular. But post-pandemic the demand for online shopping isn’t what it used to be.
Shein has long been scrutinized by the U.S. for unethical labor practices and the potential damage its clothing production may have on the environment. The company is now navigating stricter environmental regulations that the U.S. and European Union are imposing on imports.
When Shein will go public still remains to be seen. Several highly valued startups, including social networking platform Reddit, car-sharing platform Turo, and grocery delivery service Instacart, have all filed paperwork to go public, but none have their ticker symbols yet.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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