This story appears in the November 2022 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia
This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of China’s Richest 2022. See the full list here.
Chris Xu has built Shein into a worldwide online fast-fashion phenomenon by quickly identifying trends and churning out small batches of style-conscious, affordable clothes, such as $10 dresses, favored by Gen Z.
In April he reportedly raised over $1 billion from New York-based private equity firm General Atlantic and other investors in a deal that valued Shein at $100 billion, surpassing the combined market value of two other major fashion retailers, Zara and H&M. Though the valuation is said to have eased since, he joins the ranks of China’s 100 richest for the first time, at No. 25, with a net worth of $10 billion.
Xu, who shuns the media, began his career as a search engine marketing specialist at a trading company in Nanjing before he started his own cross-border e-commerce business in 2008. Three years later he set up a wedding-dress e-retailer called SheInside, which he transformed into Shein in 2012. Today, from a base in Guangzhou, Xu heads a fashion juggernaut with 10,000 employees that sells to 150 countries.
Shein reportedly raked in over $16 billion in sales in the first half of 2022, although growth has slowed from pandemic highs. To deepen its foothold in its largest markets, the U.S. and Europe, the company launched pop-up stores across major European cities this year to promote brand awareness, and opened its first U.S. distribution center in Indiana in April to shorten its delivery cycle. It plans to open a second distribution center in California by early 2023 and is mulling a third for America’s Northeast.
Amid rising concerns over the fashion industry’s environmental impact, Shein in June pledged $50 million over the next five years to the Or Foundation. The U.S.- and Ghana-based nonprofit focuses on reducing fashion waste.