Luxury clothing brand Ralph Lauren is apologizing amid fallout over the brand’s use of lettering and symbols associated with a historically Black fraternity.
Members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. sounded the alarm this week after a pair of chino pants featured on the brand’s French site used Greek letters representing the fraternity’s nomenclature, according to the Black Greek lifestyle blog Watch the Yard, which first reported the story. The red and black lettering appears on the back knee of the pants, which retail for about $335.
The company’s jacking of the historic symbols did not sit well with the Sigmas and other members of the Divine 9 fraternities and sororities.
The Yard said that less than three hours after it published a story on the apparent infringement it was contacted by a Ralph Lauren rep who said the company would be removing the pants from sale.
“The use of these symbols on our products was an oversight for which we deeply apologize,” the company said in a statement. “We are immediately taking action to remove this product from our sales channels. While we have a rigorous review process in place for all of our designs, this has prompted us to take another review of our protocols to help ensure that this does not happen again.”
The brand added that it’s been inspired by “many facets of American culture” and are “firmly committed to respectful and appropriate use of all cultural icons and insignias.”
Several readers lauded the “Black Greekdom” blog for taking Ralph Lauren to task over the issue in a manner that resulted in an apology.
“EXCELLENT JOB. Great advocacy! Congratulations on this win, 💯” one Instagram user wrote.
“🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 Do it @watchtheyard! I’m so proud of you all and our people,” another chimed in. “We are just not going to continue to stand for cultural appropriation any more! Kudos!”
Atlanta Black Star reached out to Phi Beta Sigma for comment and is awaiting a response.
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Earlier today we published a story about pants, which are being sold for 299.99€ on Ralph Lauren’s site with Phi Beta Sigma printed on them. Within three hours of us reporting on the story, an official Ralph Lauren spokesperson reached out to Watch The Yard and told us that they are taking the pants off of all sales channels and gave us an exclusive statement explaining themselves. Swipe up on the link in our IG story to read their full statement.