Chinese fast fashion giant Shein, one of the world’s most valuable private companies, has confidentially registered with the SEC to go public in New York, Reuters reported today (June 29). If true, the listing could be the largest offering in more than a year and make Shein’s mysterious founder, Chris Xu (Xu Yangtian), the richest person in China. The IPO could finalize as soon as this year, according to Reuters. A Shein spokesperson denied “these rumors” to Observer without further elaborating. (Update: Newer reports confirmed Shein has not filed to go public.)
Shein, known for selling cheap, trendy clothes and home products through its mobile app to young shoppers, was most recently valued at more than $60 billion. Last spring, its private-market valuation reached a whopping $100 billion—an unheard-of number for a fashion company—making it the world’s third most valuable private company, after TikTok parent ByteDance and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Shein’s giant market value has already made its founder and CEO, Xu, among the richest people in China, although estimates of his actual net worth range widely due to Shein’s private status and his extremely reclusive profile. Xu has never given interviews or made media appearances. Photos of him are scarce. One of his only known public social media posts dates back to 2014, when he announced on Facebook that his company (the predecessor of Shein) “has more than 50 employees!”
Forbes estimates Xu’s fortune at $10.5 billion. Bloomberg gauges it at $23.5 billion. The Hurun China Rich List, a popular wealth ranking in China, calculated Xu’s net worth at around $7.2 billion at the end of 2022. He is the world’s 65th richest person in the world and the eighth in China on Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
At just shy of 40 years old, Xu founded Shein in 2008 in China under the name Nanjing Dianwei Information Technology. The company started out as a wholesale retailer connecting Chinese clothing factories to overseas buyers. It officially became Shein in 2015 after acquiring Romwe, a Chinese fast fashion company with warehouses and offices in California.
In April 2022, after it claimed the $100 billion valuation status, Shein reportedly told investors it hoped to go public in the U.S. as soon as 2024. Xu even moved the company’s headquarters from mainland China to Singapore to circumvent China’s tightening laws on domestic companies listing overseas. But the U.S. IPO market soon turned dark, with both the number of listings and fundraising plummeting on recession fears. While the stock market recovered somewhat this year, it’s still unclear whether IPOs are back yet.