Fast fashion juggernaut Shein launched a new collection inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo Thursday. However, the Chinese online retailer’s collaboration is with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, a Panamanian licensing and commercialization company that has been fighting with members of the artist’s family for almost ten years over trademark and property rights.
The news of the Shein x Frida Kahlo collaboration was first reported by the Spanish daily newspaper El País.
The new collaboration appears to be the latest episode in the ongoing dispute between FKC and some of Kahlo’s relatives.
In 1954, Frida Kahlo died without a will. Kahlo’s property rights were inherited by her niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, according to Mexican law. Isolda Pinedo Kahlo’s daughter, Maria Cristina Romeo Pinedo, was then granted power of attorney over these rights in 2003. The following year, Pinedo and others formed The Frida Kahlo Corp. with the primary objective of “licensing and commercializing the ‘Frida Kahlo’ brand worldwide.”
In recent years, however, Kahlo’s great-niece, Maria Cristina Romeo Pinedo and her daughter, Mara de Anda Romeo have been fighting with FKC over the licensing rights and trademarks for assets like the artist’s image.
After Mattel released a Barbie doll depicting the late Mexican painter in 2018, her relatives argued in a Mexican court that FKC did not have the right to do so. A judge ruled in their favor, halting sales of the doll in the country, but it sold out in the rest of the world.
Last September, a Florida court dismissed a legal dispute between the Frida Kahlo Corporation and Kahlo’s descendants. Two months before that, the family asked the sportswear company Puma to remove a clothing collection inspired by Kahlo from the market.
Shein, meanwhile, has been criticized for its rapid turnaround of garments, a reputation for frequently stealing designs, and most recently, exploitative working conditions.
On Monday, an investigative documentary by the British broadcast television network Channel 4 revealed Shein’s factories had no defined production hours, while workers receive wages of 3