Home Fashion H&M Accused of Copying Designs: The Controversy Surrounding the Shein Lawsuit

H&M Accused of Copying Designs: The Controversy Surrounding the Shein Lawsuit


In 2013, one prominent high street retailer, H&M, faced allegations of unashamedly replicating the latest catwalk trends with near literal translations for its collections. The copies included a white cropped Balenciaga bustier with identical slits, a black Celine ‘Sable’ dress featuring a recognizable deep V-neck woven with mesh fabric, and a Kenzo tiger print sweater boasting an uncanny multi-coloured animal motif. Despite the unmistakable resemblance of these designs to their luxury counterparts, none of the luxury brands or their parent companies, all of which are under Kering and LVMH ownership, pursued legal action against H&M for copying.

Although H&M has not been a stranger to translating or copying key catwalk pieces into its own collections throughout the years, the retailer has now filed a lawsuit against Shein for copying its own designs. This irony has not gone unnoticed on social media, where discussions about this farcical situation abound.

Previously, both Zara and H&M reigned as high street leaders and destinations for affordable catwalk trends. Zara, in particular, excelled at offering the best designer interpretations, from Prada coats to Celine shoes, as luxury brand designs filter into more affordable stores. This phenomenon, while boosting the popularity of both high street and luxury brands, also allows fashionistas to discern the qualitative difference between a high street knock-off and a genuine luxury item.

New players on the high street

While Zara’s influence on the high street remains strong, its recent ranges, including its menswear Origins line, have displayed better fabric quality and a more timeless allure, extending the lifespan of their products beyond a few wears. However, like H&M, Zara now faces competition from Shein, an extraordinary Chinese company that swiftly delivers trends to market faster than any previous high street retailer. By significantly shortening the time from design to production and availability online to approximately three weeks, Shein’s popular TikToks have captured the attention of Generation Z shoppers, driving sales to an impressive 24 billion dollars in 2022, surpassing both H&M (22.25 billion dollars) and Zara (23 billion euros).

In the high street fashion industry, it is uncommon for brands to sue each other for copying, especially when their own designs often originate from questionable sources. While H&M has been known for pioneering collaborations with brands like Moschino, Karl Lagerfeld, and Versace, these collabs in part shielded it from being the target of litigious claims, unlike rivals Zara or PrettyLittleThing.

Where designer brands often have signature designs, at least under one creative director, most high street labels, with Uniqlo being a notable exception, thrive on trend-led styling that channels inspiration from designer catwalks to their shop floors. This one-way funnel approach rarely leads to lateral or upward claims of copying, making H&M’s lawsuit against Shein, considering its own past, a surprising move.

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Monte OZ
Monte OZ is a highly accomplished and respected international freelance journalist, travel and active adventure reporter, and leading entertainment & lifestyle blogger based in Africa. With a passion for storytelling, a sense of adventure, and an eye for all things captivating, Monte has become a prominent figure in the world of travel, entertainment, and lifestyle journalism. Born and raised in Africa, Monte developed a deep appreciation for the continent's diverse cultures, rich heritage, and vibrant entertainment scene. His upbringing fueled his desire to share Africa's untold stories and showcase its dynamic lifestyle to a global audience. Monte's extensive experience and expertise have made him a sought-after authority on all things related to travel, adventure, entertainment, and lifestyle in Africa. As an international freelance journalist, Monte has made significant contributions to various prestigious publications worldwide. His captivating articles, insightful interviews, and engaging features have graced the pages of leading entertainment magazines, lifestyle publications, and reputable news outlets. Monte's unique ability to capture the essence of Africa's entertainment and lifestyle scene has garnered widespread acclaim and recognition. With a love for exploration and a thirst for adrenaline, Monte also thrives as an active adventure reporter. He has embarked on daring expeditions, immersing himself in Africa's wild landscapes, and documenting his adrenaline-pumping experiences. Whether it's conquering treacherous peaks, exploring remote jungles, or engaging in heart-pounding activities, Monte's adventurous spirit and daring escapades inspire readers to embrace their own sense of adventure. In addition to his work in journalism and adventure reporting, Monte is a leading entertainment & lifestyle blogger in Africa. Through his influential blog, he offers readers an insider's view of the continent's vibrant entertainment scene, trendy hotspots, fashion trends, culinary delights, and cultural experiences. Monte's unique blend of storytelling, personal insights, and expert recommendations has made his blog a go-to resource for entertainment and lifestyle enthusiasts seeking the pulse of Africa's dynamic culture. Beyond his professional pursuits, Monte is a passionate advocate for promoting Africa's talent, creativity, and cultural diversity. He actively supports and champions emerging artists, musicians, designers, and entrepreneurs, helping to showcase their work to a broader audience. Monte's dedication to promoting Africa's vibrant entertainment and lifestyle industry has positioned him as a respected influencer and tastemaker within the African and global entertainment communities. With a commitment to excellence, a passion for exploration, and a talent for captivating storytelling, Monte Oz continues to captivate audiences worldwide. As an international freelance journalist, travel and active adventure reporter, and leading entertainment & lifestyle blogger, his work has left an indelible mark on the world of journalism, travel, and entertainment, solidifying his position as a trusted authority and go-to resource for all things related to African travel, adventure, and lifestyle.