Ralph Lauren apologizes for garment with indigenous Mexican pattern, after 'plagiarism' accusation
The popular U.S. clothing maker issued an unequivocal apology, saying it was "deeply sorry" and "open to dialogue about how we can do better."
Clothing powerhouse Ralph Lauren is apologizing for selling a garment with a Mexican design apparently without compensating two indigenous communities and is promising a full investigation into how it ended up on store shelves.
The controversy arose after Mexico first lady Beatriz Gutiérrez posted on her Instagram account an image of the Lauren garment patterned with what appeared to be traditional Mexican motifs.
"Hey Ralph: We realized that you really like Mexican designs, especially those that elaborate ancestral cultures that preserve the textile tradition," she wrote under the image. "However, when you copy these designs you fall into plagiarism, and as you know, plagiarism is illegal and immoral. At least acknowledge it."
She also wrote: "Hopefully you repair the damage to the Indigenous communities who do that work out of love and not for millionaire profit.”
In a statement on the Lauren website, the company said it was “surprised to learn that this product is being sold.”
“When our team discovered months ago that this was in our product pipeline, we issued a stern directive to remove the item from all channels,” the company wrote. “We are conducting an urgent audit to determine how this item landed on a sales floor after that directive and ensure it is removed immediately.”
The clothing maker also said a recent policy dictates such designs only be drawn up with “credit and collaboration” to and from indigenous Mexican tribes.
"We are deeply sorry this happened and, as always, we are open to dialogue about how we can do better," the announcement said.