Accused of plagiarizing indigenous Mexican motifs, Ralph Lauren apologizes

US fashion giant Ralph Lauren has apologized after being accused of plagiarizing indigenous designs for one of its garments.

“We are surprised to learn that this product is on sale,” the company reacted on Friday, claiming to have sought to ban its marketing after discovering its existence several months ago.

“We are conducting an urgent audit to determine how this item landed on a sales floor (…) and to ensure that it is removed immediately,” said Ralph Lauren.

“We are deeply sorry this has happened and, as always, we are open to dialogue on how we can improve,” the company added.

Beatriz Gutierrez, president of a Mexican commission for cultural affairs and wife of President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, had arrested Ralph Lauren Thursday on her Instagram account.

“Listen Ralph: we noticed that you really like Mexican patterns (…) However, by copying these patterns you are plagiarizing, and as you know plagiarism is illegal and immoral,” she wrote. Ms Gutierrez, who is a historian, accompanied her message with an image of a colorful jacket clearly labeled “Ralph Lauren”.

The patterns used in the clothes of the American brand correspond according to her to drawings of the communities of Contla (central Mexico) and Saltillo (north).

Mexican copyright law stipulates that all works considered popular or artisanal must be respected, and requires clear acknowledgment of the indigenous community from which they originate in the event of commercial use.

In 2021, Mexico had already filed a complaint against fashion companies, such as the Chinese company Shein, the Spanish company Inditex and the American companies Anthropologie and Patowl, for using Mexican designs in their clothing.

In 2020, Mexico also filed a complaint against French fashion designer Isabel Marant, who later apologized to the government and an indigenous community in Michoacan (west).

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