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Ying Huang

Professor at Manning School of Business University of Massachusetts Lowell

Forever 21 Benefits From its Shein Strategic Partnership, But Shein Gets the Bigger Slice. Here’s Why.


In the retail fashion industry, strategic partnerships are key, especially in the fast fashion sector. A recent alliance between Shein, an emerging e-fashion giant, and Forever 21, a well-established brand, exemplifies this trend. This strategic partnership represents a significant shift in the global fashion industry. Shein, which began as a modest Chinese apparel merchant, has rapidly evolved into a global powerhouse, now valued higher than Zara and H&M combined.

The partnership between Shein and Forever 21 presents numerous opportunities. It raises critical questions about the partnership’s impact on Shein venture into the U.S. market and the enhancement of Forever 21’s existing strengths. What kind of synergies will this alliance bring forth in terms of market penetration and mutual capability enhancement? Can this strategic partnership enable both entities to leverage their strengths more effectively, thereby securing a more dominant position in the fast fashion sector?

Dr. Ying Huang, Professor of Marketing & Acting Chair of MEI at The University of Massachusetts Lowell, analyzes the recent strategic partnership between Shein and Forever 21. She acknowledges the mutual advantages but emphasizes that Shein appears to gain more from this collaboration. Dr. Huang delves into the strategic aspects of this alliance, particularly focusing on how Shein’s position is bolstered in the competitive landscape of the retail fashion industry, potentially more so than Forever 21’s.

“I see this partnership more the other way around, helping Shein to enter the U.S. market, not necessarily helping Forever 21 because Forever 21 is already in the Chinese market,” Huang said.

Article written by Sonia Gossai

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Over the summer, fast fashion retail giants, Shein and Forever 21, announced a collaborative effort in a move to widen their customer bases. Shein will see its products sold out of the retail companys hundreds of locations, and in turn Forever 21 gets hold of the online retail giant's massive global reach and supply chain.

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