How Shein’s founder quickly built $24 billion fortune

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Not far from the chi-chi boutiques on Omotesando, Tokyo’s Rodeo Drive, is Shein, a new symbol of international fashion.

Beyond venerable names like Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton on Cat Street is China’s fast-fashion phenom Shein’s first permanent location.

Its meteoric rise, as well as the accompanying controversies, have snatched the fashion world by the lapel. This two-story boutique, however, is more than just a fast fashion shrine: it’s a testament to the vast fortune Shein’s four founders have amassed in record time.

Ralph Lauren, who founded the Polo brand in 1967, had to wait three decades to achieve billionaire status.

Xu Yangtian, Shein’s CEO, has built one of the world’s great fortunes in less than ten years. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he is worth at least $23.5 billion and owns roughly one-third of Shein.

The combined net worth of its founders—Xu, Miao Miao, Gu Xiaoqing, and Ren Xiaoqing—is nearly $40 billion, and Tiger Global, one of its earliest and most prominent backers, has made more than 20 times its investment.

The rise of Shein

In 2008, Xu Yangtian launched his first e-commerce venture with two partners to sell women’s clothing and accessories.

The project did not take off, but he met the people who would become his most trusted executives: Miao, Gu, and Ren were among the few employees who helped him launch Shein (pronounced “she-in”) in Nanjing a decade ago. They are now in charge of operations, product development, and supply-chain management at the company

Shein, which began selling in the United States in 2012, gained traction with its website and app thanks to a steady stream of new products, ubiquitous TikTok marketing, and extremely low prices. It largely avoids physical stores, with the exception of the occasional pop-up shop.

According to Morning Consult survey data, it is the ninth-most popular apparel brand among Gen Z women in the United States. Shein joins the ranks of classic American labels such as Levi’s and Calvin Klein.

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