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China's Shein fashion retailer faces stricter EU regulation

April 26, 2024

The Chinese fast-fashion online retailer is now subject to EU rules as a "very large online platform," joining tech firms including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. The rules include measures to protect online users.

Shein on App Store displayed on a phone screen and Shein website displayed on a screen in the background are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 19, 2023.
The fast-fashion online-retailer has said it has around 108 million monthly active users in the EUImage: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/picture alliance

The European Union on Friday added Chinese-founded fast-fashion company Shein to its list of very large online platforms (VLOP), which subjects it to stricter online rules.

The listing applies to companies with over 45 million users, according to the bloc's Digital Services Act (DSA). When added to the list, companies are required to do more to fight illegal and harmful content, as well as counterfeit products on their platforms.

How did Shein react?

The designation comes into effect from the end of August. Shein said it was committed to comply with the rules.

We share the [European] Commission's ambition to ensure consumers in the EU can shop online with peace of mind, and we are committed to playing our part," Leonard Lin, Shein's global head of public affairs, said in a statement.

Shein has said it has around 108 million monthly active users in the 27-nation EU. The online retailer has often been accused, like many other fast-fashion giants, of worker exploitation and harming the environment. 

How fast fashion is killing the planet

What is EU's Digital Services Act?

The EU has brought the world's largest digital platforms under heavy scrutiny lately, with investigations launched against Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok, Elon Musk's X (formerly Twitter) as well as Chinese retailer AliExpress.

Another Chinese shopping app, Temu, recently announced having some 75 million monthly active users, making it subject to the bloc's list.

Some 16 tech firms are already subject to the DSA, including Amazon.com, Apple, Alibaba and Microsoft.

The DSA stipulates that digital platforms must assess the specific risks to European citizens' rights and safety by the published content or products. Platforms are required to submit a report to regulators, as well as an annual audit verifying they comply with the rules.

rmt/wmr (AFP, Reuters)