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We were scanning our Twitter feed this morning when this apology tweet from H&M caught our eye:
We’re very sorry about our CS team’s answer, it's unfortunate and we apologize for it. We're in direct contact with Tori LaConsay.
Who the hell is Tori LaConsay?, we wondered. Turns out, she is a 32-year-old Birmingham-based illustrator and designer who probably just got her work ripped off by the Swedish company.
Back in 2008, she painted the sign above "as a love letter" to her then neighborhood in Atlanta. It was located on the main road in town, painted on one side with “You Look Nice Today” followed by a little heart. The other side of the sign said “I’m So Happy You’re Here” with another heart—the idea being that people would see the first message on their way to work, and the second message on their way home. "It was a small gesture that I genuinely hoped would make my neighbors feel good," LaConsay said in an email to Regretsy.com. (Side note: Toni LaConsay, if you'd like to move to Brooklyn and cheer us all up everyday, you will be very welcome here.)
Tori LaConsay in 2008
Anyway, somehow a graphic looking pretty much exactly like LaConsay's sign ended up on H&M products. Which, while regrettable, could probably have been pretty easily cleared up with an apology, a credit, and appropriate compensation. What's actually outrageous here is the customer service department's response to LaConsay's email about the situation. According to her, an email to H&M received the following response:
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.
So, yeah, we're guessing whoever in their customer service department sent that original email is not having such a great day. The story is now all over the internet and H&M's Facebook page, though apparently many of the angry wall posts have been removed by the company. What's left is one carefully worded PR message posted 8 hours ago that basically says the same thing as their tweet this morning (1,128 "Likes" and 473 comments so far, fyi).
So it would seem that H&M is going to have to respond to Tori after all, which would be awesome even if she didn't happen to be the kind of girl who goes around drawing hearts for people and brightening up their days.