Legendary brand Ralph Lauren found itself in hot water following the use of black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma’s Greek letters on a pair of the brand’s pants. Immense backlash followed—and now an apology has been given.
NBC News reports, The Ralph Lauren Corporation has formally apologized for using Phi Beta Sigma’s Greek symbols on a pair of chinos following a host of complaints—and the pants have also been officially pulled and are no longer for purchase. An ad for the pants initially caught attention on Ralph Lauren’s French website and from there, the criticism got so intense that a Change.org petition was created earlier this month demanding that Ralph Lauren “do the right thing and recall, destroy and publicly apologize for trying to capitalize off of black culture.”
The petition further stated, “We don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but they need to fix it quick.” The pants originally retailed for 299.99 euros (about $334 U.S. dollars) and featured Phi Beta Sigma’s symbols on the back left pant leg. A legal representative for the fraternity said that an investigation is currently underway and that they were “shocked and appalled” that Ralph Lauren would violate the fraternity’s trademarks without consent.
The rep continued, adding “Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. was founded in 1914 under the principles of brotherhood, scholarship and service. Our client’s brand symbolizes a brotherhood of diverse, college-educated men.”
A spokeswoman for Ralph Lauren released a statement, noting that the use of the symbols was “an oversight” and also said:
“As an American brand with more than 50 years of heritage, Ralph Lauren is inspired by many facets of American culture. As part of this, we are firmly committed to respectful and appropriate use of all cultural icons and insignias.”
The brand is said to be taking another look at its protocols to ensure that issues like this never happen again.