Here’s How Shein Got Away with a Frida Kahlo Inspired Collection

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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Shein, a fast fashion brand, recently introduced a new collection inspired by the late Mexican icon Frida Kahlo and not so surprisingly, fans of the artist are baffled as to how they got away with this.

Ultimately, Shein was able to release the new fashion line collection after it collaborated with the Frida Kahlo Corporation (FKC), which, according to El País, controls 51 percent of Kahlo’s trademark while her family holds 49% as a part of an agreement to “share and preserve Frida Kahlo’s art, image, and legacy.”

The working relationship between FKC and the Kahlo family started to fall apart in 2018 when Mattel debuted its Frida Kahlo Barbie. While Mattel claimed to work closely with FKC to properly represent Kahlo’s likeness and legacy, her family pushed back at the lack of authenticity of who Kahlo actually was and what she looked like. That’s when Kahlo’s family began claiming that FKC had gone too far and “exceeded their rights in licensing the use of Frida’s name without the family’s approval.”


Aside from the trademark battle, which Kahlo’s family hasn’t made a statement on yet, another issue that has been raised online is the fact that FKC licensed Kahlo’s brand to a Chinese-based company that is known in the industry for its controversial “fast fashion” practices and its exploitation of workers.

According to a 2019 article in the New York Times, “fast fashion” equates to low-quality clothing whose “production methods, labor practices and environmental impacts” are hurting the planet and garment industry. Fast fashion has been tied to inhumane working conditions, exploitation amongst immigrant employees, and severe damage to the ecosystem

Online, people critical of fast fashion brands expressed their anger that FKC would allow Shein to create an entire collection featuring Kahlo. “Can anyone tell the capitalists that she was communist? She would burn all the clothes if she were alive,” one Twitter user posted.

Another user felt that Shein was “mocking Mexican culture.”

Only time will tell if Frida Kahlo’s family will gain back control of her trademark, but it’s difficult to believe that Kahlo, who was a staunch critic of American capitalism, would be happy with the way her image and name have been used in recent years.