Earlier this year the TikTok star “Tami Elizabeth” was more than surprised to see what appeared to be her likeness on a Shein dress.
In response to that, she claimed to have emailed the company inquiring about the artist and sending two cease-and-desist letters after receiving guidance about that from an attorney. The stylist and designer, whose given name is Tamara Strzelecki, said she was startled again after receiving an invitation to collaborate with “Shein Curvee” as an influencer.
The TikTok standout first spoke with WWD in January about the situation. On Thursday, she shared with WWD an email exchange from a Shein Curvee address that was dated March 16. The email read in part, “We @SHEIN are launching our newest clothing brand and we noticed you have been a fan of our work and we have observed your profile and you’re qualified for a collaboration with us.” In exchange for tags, the email offered Strzelecki free monthly packages of eight items of her choice, and discount codes to share among other incentives.
Aside from being a popular TikTok personality with 7.9 million likes, Strzelecki has a profitable online business, Sugs’ Shoppe. Although it has been up-and-running for 15 years, it became successful last year after one of her getting-ready videos — for a visit to her therapist — went viral with more than 1 million views.
Regarding the offer of a Shein Curvee collaboration, she told WWD, “I am a size 2, not curve material. I replied with a photo of me in the dress and stated I had reached out multiple times to request more information about the design and I get sent a collaboration offer?” and shared her email response to that address.
Asked about the offer, Emily Workman, director of corporate communications for the Shein Group, said Thursday, “While we can confirm there was no outreach to this individual regarding a partnership with Shein, we have been made aware of recent email scams falsely claiming to come from our company. We encourage others to stay vigilant regarding emails claiming to be from Shein offering or soliciting services.”
As for whether Shein would comment regarding Tami’s claims that her likeness was used for a dress and cease-and-desist requests sent to the company earlier this year, Workman said, “We don’t have anything to share at this time.”
Asked about Shein’s explanation, Strzelecki said, “I can’t verify if the company was really Shein or not. I just received the email with Shein Curvee, the one forwarded to you. It’s the only correspondence I have received from anyone at Shein.”
Meanwhile, Shein is gearing up to host the first Shein x Design Summit in Los Angeles on April 1. The fast fashion retailer plans to host hundreds of designers and artists for showcases, panels and networking opportunities with such fashion insiders as LaQuan Smith, Maeve Reilly, Oscar de la Renta’s and Monse’s Laura Kim and Hilldun Corporation’s chief executive officer Gary Wassner. The event is also meant to introduce scores of independent designers to the company’s incubator program Shein X. George Chiao, U.S. president of Shein, noted that the aim is to onboard 1,000 designers this year to the program. “Thousands” of others have already cycled through, since the incubator’s 2021 debut, he said.