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'My intricate nail designs were stolen by Shein'

Published on 2023-06-04 14:38:38 source:NBC News

A British nail artist has claimed that her designs have been stolen by fast fashion giant Shein.

You might've seen the headlines on some news sites - "Beauty fans go wild for £2 Shein press-on nails".

And it's true, some of the Chinese-owned company's press-on nails are being sold for as little as 75p.

But Manchester-based nail designer Yan Tee was shocked to find her intricate designs on the site.

And she says not only have the firm copied her nail art, but they've even taken her own Instagram pictures without permission to advertise them.

"I thought it was a joke until I clicked on the link," Yan tells BBC Newsbeat.

"And I thought not only have they copied the design, but they've used the picture that I've taken of my clients' hands as well."

A Shein spokesperson told Newsbeat it "takes all claims of infringement seriously".

"Shein respects designers and artists, and the intellectual property rights of others," they said.

"When legitimate complaints are raised by valid IP rights holders, Shein promptly addresses the situation, and removes the product(s) from our site as a matter of caution while we investigate."

Yan's detailed designs have earned her almost 80,000 followers on Instagram.

"I've created this design for my client based on her personal taste," the 28-year-old says.

"And so to see it literally be stolen, it feels really bad."

Yan paints her designs on clients' nails, natural or acrylic, herself - whereas press-on nails are plastic nails which are applied with glue.

She's been teaching herself since she was a teenager working in salons, and typically charges about £40 for her designs.

Yan claims that after two of her designs ended up on the site, Shein apologised and removed them both when she got in touch.

But a day later, she says one of the pictures reappeared on the site.

"Small artists don't have the funds to like take them to court," Yan says.

"And I think a big part of it is that the copyright laws in China, where they're based, are quite flexible compared to like the UK copyright laws, so they can kind of get away with it."

Yan says she understands why people would buy nails from the site, due to the low cost or not being able to visit her in Manchester.

But she believes the fashion giant should've approached her to ask if they could sell the design, and then pay her.

"I wouldn't be mad at the people who are buying it, because most of the people don't know it's been stolen off an artist," she says.

"But then I think it's a responsibility of Shein."

The price of Shein's nails are obviously far less than seeing a nail artist - but as Yan points out, it's unlikely press-on nails will last.

"Press-ons will pop off after a day or so, if not an hour, [and] my clients come back to me every four to six weeks and their nails are still on.

"I hand paint these designs and sat with them for at least an hour.

"Shein have scanned my design on to a piece of plastic and they're selling it to someone who's going to be wearing it for like an hour or so."

Shein says its "suppliers are all required to certify that their products do not infringe on third-party IP".

"If a violation is confirmed, Shein takes appropriate action. We continue to invest and improve our process to detect and prevent violations," the spokesperson added.

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