An open letter to the CEO of H&M
Dear Karl-Johan Persson,
It is deeply upsetting to learn that H&M have produced and are selling as its own, a product copied directly from my range of Alphabet Brush Pots.
I designed these in 2014 and have been making them in London with a small, skilled and dedicated staff since 2015. They have been very popular and sell into a number of the most prestigious interior, design and department stores in London and around the world. Something I have worked immensely hard on and am very proud of.
To see H&M producing a poorly watered-down version to pass of as its own design in the form of a candle votive (votive made in China, candle poured in Vietnam), is not only disappointing from the perspective of witnessing an enormous multi-national company yet again stealing a design from a tiny independent designer and profiting from it. But it’s method of production also flies in the face of everything I work hard to promote and practice – locally assembled, handmade, sustainable, high quality.
It puts under threat the relationships I have built between my company and my stockists and compromises my reputation with my customers, who will recognise this design as mine and think that I had a part to play in its compromised design and method of mass production.
As well as being (totally) unethical, by directly copying my design there is an obvious detrimental financial implication to my business as customers and the wider public will be purchasing your copy of my design instead of my original product. (Your company has completely diluted my product’s exclusivity.) The damaging effect upon our own sales may be lasting and is a cause of great stress for a small business like ours.
I have visited the H&M website and read your values and guidelines manifesto ‘The H&M Way’ which is aimed towards your staff, customers, suppliers, shareholders and business partners. Throughout this the words – quality, respect, openness, ethically, straightforwardness, honesty and responsibly, are repeatedly used and that you ‘continually encourage our suppliers and other business partners to do the same.’
I want to ask you; do you not feel that these values and guidelines should not also be extended towards the wider design community and the treatment of their intellectual property?