Head shot of Shelly Xu

Shelly Xu

2020 Cheng Fellow

Shelly Xu is an MBA candidate at the Harvard Business School. She is committed to reversing fashion’s negative impact on our environment—a reality she has witnessed first-hand during her travels across China, Japan, and the United States as a child. Shelly is the founder of Shelly Xu Design (SXD), a fashion-tech venture that makes beautiful, accessible, and 100% zero waste clothing designs. These designs challenge the conventional approach to sustainable fashion, which usually involves a compromise among price, accessibility, and design appeal. By integrating zero waste into both the design and manufacturing process, Shelly Xu Design makes reducing fashion’s carbon footprint a natural choice rather than a sacrifice.

Shelly also believes in building an open-source platform for zero waste fashion, so other brands and the next generation of designers can be a part of this fundamental change. To date, SXD has attracted about 22K advocates to its community and has been invited to showcase at every major fashion week in the world, including an invitation to open for Milan Fashion Week. As a Cheng Fellow, Shelly will prove SXD’s scalability at zero waste. This includes completing zero waste and zero inventory runs with manufacturing partners in addition to developing proprietary clean tech in-house.

Before entering Harvard Business School, Shelly worked at McKinsey, Prada, and Instagram. She has been described as a “rational artist who maximizes creativity under constraints,” which aligns with SXD’s mission to design the most desirable clothing while maintaining zero waste.

Shelly loves collaborating at the intersection of different disciplines. Her previous work with creative teams, engineering teams, and nonprofit organizations has led to two utility patents in the fashion/retail space and, more recently, the David Ogilvy Award for Public Service.