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Ralph Lauren ‘plagiarised Mexican designs’

“By copying these designs you are committing plagiarism, which is illegal and immoral,” the wife of Mexico’s president has told fashion house Ralph Lauren.

October 21, 2022
By Isabel Woodford
21 October 2022

The wife of Mexico’s president has accused luxury American clothes brand Ralph Lauren of plagiarising Indigenous designs, which she described as an appropriation of the work of the country’s pre-Hispanic cultures.

“Hey Ralph (Lauren): we already realised that you really like Mexican designs,” writer and researcher Beatriz Gutierrez said in an Instagram post on Thursday.

“However, by copying these designs you are committing plagiarism, which is illegal and immoral.”

The post shows a photo of a coat with colourful Indigenous motifs hanging in a store. The label reads Ralph Lauren.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters, which found the garment selling on a department store website for $US360 ($A571). 

It has previously apologised over accusations of cultural appropriation in separate incidents.

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

President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador has launched an intense campaign to reclaim relics of Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage since taking office in 2018, including lodging complaints against auction houses in the United States and Europe, and recovering dozens of Mexican antiques.

In July, the Mexican government also asked Chinese fashion retailer Shein to explain its use of indigenous Mayan elements in one of its pieces, causing it to remove the garment from its website.

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

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