H&M Thinks Being "Inspired By" Artwork Is Different From "Copying It Exactly"

H&M, better known as the store you go to when you need a decent-looking shirt that you don’t expect to make it through the wash more than twice, is feeling some Internet heat today over allegations that it’s cashing in on the work of a Georgia-based artist without permission or payment.

In 2008, artist Tori LaConsay painted a love letter to her East Atlanta neighborhood that simply, charmingly reads “You Look Nice Today” followed by a little red heart.

“It was a small gesture that I genuinely hoped would make my neighbors feel good,” the artist tells Regretsy.

But then Tori recently began receiving e-mails from friends saying how nice it was that the simple painting had been snapped up by H&M for use on everything from doormats to bath towels. Surely, LaConsay must have benefited from these products?

Not quite.

An initial inquiry sent to H&M resulted in the following reply:
“We employ an independent team of over 100 designers. We can assure you that this design has not been influenced by your work and that no copyright has been infringed.”

And as people began posting on H&M’s Facebook page — posts that were subsequently removed, says LaConsay — the retailer finally posted:

We apologies [sic] if anyone should think we have copied, which has never been our intention and also not allowed. We have merely been inspired, after seeing many different varieties with different text messages, to create something similar in a different font, with the use of big and small brackets and the placement of the shaped heart. We are truly sorry if we have led someone to believe that we intentionally should have copied someone else’s creation.

Except a side-by-side comparison of the items H&M is selling show that the store’s designs are all but identical to LaConsay’s original painting. The only notable exception is the omission of the “.” at the end of the text on the H&M products.

The latest Facebook post from H&M about the subject reads: “We are very sorry for our customer service team¬¥s reply, it is very unfortunate and we apologize for it. We are in contact with Tori LaConsay and will continue the dialogue with her directly.”

This has still not stopped the Internet hate, which includes Facebook posts like “You look like a pirate today,” and “I always thought your employees were pretentious and stuck up; this incident is just further proof.”

H&M is Awesome [Regretsy.com]