Shein, the ultra-fast fashion giant that’s taken the globe by storm, has brought on another heavyweight executive to help steer its ship. It lately onboarded Jessica Liu, former co-president at the Southeast Asian e-commerce giant Lazada, as its vice president of global brand operations.
Liu will be responsible for “global brand partnerships,” according to Shein’s post on LinkedIn. This is an intriguing development, given the platform has focused mostly on its private labels Shein, Romwe and Sheglam. TechCrunch has reached out to Shein for more details about its plans for global partnerships.
There are already signs that Shein wants to evolve into an all-encompassing marketplace with its horizontal expansion into home appliances, pet products and its most ambitious push since fashion — cosmetics, which falls under the Sheglam brand.
Shein is projected to generate $30 billion in gross merchandise value in 2022, beating expectations, according to Chinese news site 36kr. H&M sold 199 billion SEK ($19.3 billion) worth of products in 2021, in comparison. But Shein’s low-margin, high-volume business is increasingly under threat by its Chinese peer Temu, Pinduoduo’s overseas sibling. In the space of a few months, Temu has soared through U.S. app stores and sat at the top of all free apps for weeks.
Working with outside brands could help Shein scale across product categories more quickly rather than relying on in-house development. Shein has become a master of managing a vast network of contract manufacturers, but it’s probably a stranger to the glossy world of brands. Shoppers can already find Aukey, the electronics giant that got hit hard by Amazon’s crackdown on Chinese sellers last year, on Shein.
Liu seems like the right candidate to build out Shein’s third-party business, given her extensive experience with brands. Her career in e-commerce began with Amazon China nearly two decades ago before she moved on to run the fashion and luxury arm of Tmall, Alibaba’s online department store for big brands. Her stint with Lazada, a member of Rocket Internet which was acquired by Alibaba, lasted less than two years.
Liu is just one of a handful of industry veterans hired by Shein recently to boost its talent pool as the company seeks new areas of growth and faces pressure to address environmental, social and governance or ESG challenges. Donald Tang, a former Bear Sterns investment banker, joined as executive vice chairman as the company gears up for the IPO process. Leonard Lin, who spent nearly a decade at the Singaporean sovereign fund Temasek, is now global head of Shein’s government relations. In the U.S., Shein recently hired its first lobbyists, and Disney veteran Adam Whinston as its global head of ESG.