How Trump’s trade war built China’s first global fashion giant

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On May 17, Shein – pronounced “she-in” – ended Amazon’s 152-day streak as the most downloaded shopping app in the United States, a remarkable feat for any seven-year-old clothing brand, let alone one most Americans over the age of 30 still have not heard of.

The kids, though, are all over it. As with so many online phenomena, Gen Z and young millennial shoppers have propelled Shein’s rise, in thrall to the company’s never-ending, always-changing catalogue of clothes at prices that stretch even the most meagre allowance.

One recent Thursday, the app debuted 6,239 new items, including a floral backless halter top for US$5 (S$6.60), purple dinosaur print pyjamas (US$10) and a prom-perfect fitted butterfly sleeve dress with pearl trim (US$22). Earlier this year, a British blogger crowed that she had paid just £100 (S$187) for more than 30 Shein bikinis, a clearly impractical number of swimsuits until you remember that social media audiences demand novelty above all.

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