Staff members at Swedish clothing line Littlephant noticed on Friday that H&M's newest children's clothing line had a striking resemblance to their own. In fact, some garments were almost exactly the same. Their attempts to reach H&M, however, fell on deaf ears.
"The imitation wasn't flattering, it was horrible," designer Camilla Lundsten told The Local. "It was like being hit in the face."
Unable to get a response from the clothing giant, the team took to social media, posting a side-by-side comparison of a dress and some harlequin-styled trousers with the text: "Don't they have any creativity of their own?"
Within hours, over a thousand people responded on Instagram, and the response was similar on Facebook.
Unable to reach H&M throughout the whole weekend and into Monday, Lundsten managed to get hold of a private email address to H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson and tried her luck there.
By Wednesday, an H&M spokesperson responded, informing the 41-year-old designer they would be pulling the line. During the night, she got another call with an apology.
"They called me and admitted they made a mistake," she said.
"We're pleased they've thought about the moral of the issue, and I'm pleased they apologized. It's not fair to copy anyone, especially not a little Swedish company."
Littlephant, which started out two years ago in Sweden and is now in eight markets around the world, is a range of children's clothes and products based on characters in the book Lillefanten, which was penned and illustrated by Lundsten herself. Their official site promises that everything is "designed with a Swedish attitude and quirky expression".
But for now, Lundsten hopes the incident will act as a catalyst for further conversation on imagination and originality.
"We hope that this has started a discussion on creativity, how to use it, and how to be inspired by it," she told The Local.