Ralph Lauren Accused of Stealing Indigenous Mexican Designs

The wife of Mexico’s president accused luxury American clothing brand Ralph Lauren on Thursday of stealing indigenous designs, which she described as appropriating the country’s pre-Hispanic culture.

“Hey Ralph (Lauren): We already understand that you really like Mexican design,” author and researcher Beatriz Gutierrez said in an Instagram post. “However, by copying these designs you are committing plagiarism, which is illegal and unethical.”

The post featured a photo of a coat with colorful native motifs hanging in a shop. The label reads Ralph Lauren.

The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, adding that the dress currently sells for $360 on a department store website. It has previously apologized for allegations of cultural abuse in separate incidents.

“Hopefully you repair the damage to the original communities that work with love and not for profit,” Gutierrez added, attributing the designs to the indigenous communities of Contla and Saltillo.

Since taking office in 2018, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has launched an intense campaign to recover the ruins of Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage, including filing complaints against auction houses in the United States and Europe and recovering dozens of Mexican antiquities.

In July, the Mexican government asked Chinese fashion retailer Shin to explain the use of indigenous Mayan material in one of its pieces, prompting it to remove the garment from its website.

The government has made similar allegations against France’s Louis Vuitton, Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera, Spain’s Zara and US retailer Anthropologie.

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