Ralph Lauren apologizes for indigenous design 'plagiarism'
Brussels, Oct 21: Luxury US fashion brand Ralph Lauren has apologized after it was accused by Beatriz Gutierrez, the wife of the president of Mexico and head of a cultural affairs commission, of plagiarizing indigenous designs.
On Thursday, Gutierrez posted a photo on Instagram of a Ralph Lauren jacket which she said appropriated the designs of the Contla and Saltillo peoples from Mexico.
At the time of the post, the coat retailed at certain department stores for $360 (€368).
"Hey Ralph: We already realized that you really like Mexican designs," Gutierrez wrote.
"However, by copying these designs you're committing plagiarism, and as you know, plagiarism is illegal and immoral."
"At least acknowledge it," she added. "And hopefully you will compensate the original communities that do this work with love and not for million-dollar profit."
Gutierrez — who rejects the title of First Lady — is the honorary head of the Coordination Council of the Historical and Cultural Memory of Mexico. She has a background in the arts, cultural writing and teaching.
Ralph Lauren apologizes
Hours after the post, Ralph Lauren issued an apology to news agency Reuters and said it was "surprised" the product was still on sale after issuing a directive to remove it from stores several months ago.
"We are deeply sorry this happened and, as always, we are open to dialogue about how we can do better," the fashion company said in a statement.
Ralph Lauren has pledged that all new products using indigenous designs going forward after its Summer 2023 collection will be created under a model of "credit and collaboration."
Defending indigenous designs
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador kicked off a staunch campaign to protect the region's pre-Columbian indigenous heritage since he took office in 2018.
Mexico has previously lodged complains against major fast fashion brands like Zara, Shein and Mango.
In 2020, French designer Isabel Marant apologized for using a design unique to the Purepecha people of northeastern Mexico after she was called out by Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero.