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Ralph Lauren apologises for plagiarising Indigenous Mexico designs

The US fashion house Ralph Lauren has apologised after Mexico’s first lady accused it of plagiarising Indigenous designs and sought compensation for local communities.

“We are deeply sorry this happened and, as always, we are open to dialogue about how we can do better,” Ralph Lauren said in a statement on Friday.

The accusation came on Thursday from first lady Beatriz Gutierrez, who also heads a cultural affairs commission.

“Hey Ralph: we already realised that you really like Mexican designs,” she said in an Instagram post.

“However, by copying these designs you’re committing plagiarism, and as you know, plagiarism is illegal and immoral,” added Gutierrez.

She posted a picture of a Ralph Lauren labelled jacket whose design she said matched those of the Mexican communities of Contla and Saltillo.

“At least acknowledge it. And hopefully you will compensate the original communities that do this work with love and not for million-dollar profit,” said Gutierrez, a journalist and writer.

The Ralph Lauren statement said: “We are surprised to learn 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,” it said.

READ MORE: Mexican artisans want credit for designs behind Carolina Herrera dresses

Plagiarism by foreign designers

Mexico regularly denounces what it calls plagiarism by foreign designers of the motifs, embroidery and colours of its Indigenous communities. 

It has previously lodged complaints against major clothing brands including Zara, Mango and SHEIN.

Mexico won an apology in 2020 from French designer Isabel Marant for the use of the traditional patterns from an Indigenous community based in the country’s west.

French designer in hot water over appropriating indigenous Mexican designs

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