Louis Vuitton faces backlash for its $705 'keffiyeh-inspired' scarf

The company has been accused of cultural appropriation by online critics

The $705 Louis Vuitton scarf, featuring the patterning of the keffiyeh. Courtesy Louis Vuitton
The $705 Louis Vuitton scarf, featuring the patterning of the keffiyeh. Courtesy Louis Vuitton

French luxury house Louis Vuitton is in hot water for one of its latest men's scarves.

On its US website, the label offers a blue, jacquard-woven stole decorated with both the Vuitton monogram design and the distinctive checked pattern of the traditional keffiyeh. The scarf is priced at $705.

Louis Vuitton describes the scarf on its website as being “inspired by the classic keffiyeh and enriched with House signatures". The company says that the scarf, made from wool, cotton and silk, is lightweight and soft, and that it “creates an easygoing mood".

The backlash has been swift, however, with the industry watchdog Instagram account Diet Prada calling out Vuitton for the product, placing an image from Vuitton’s website alongside the Wikipedia definition of the keffiyeh.

The pattern is used as a traditional headscarf in the region, often worn by Arab men. It’s also regarded as a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, and solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

At the time of writing, the scarf in question was available on Louis Vuitton's US website, but not the UAE site.

With 2.7 million followers, Diet Prada regularly highlights issues of plagiarism, racism, sexual misconduct and cultural appropriation within the fashion industry, demanding high-profile figures, designers and brands take responsibility, apologise and, where appropriate, pay reparations.

What started as a small account in 2014 has grown to a serious fact-checker of the industry, and has been involved in many high-profile spats with major fashion brands.

This is not the first time Louis Vuitton has been called out. In February, it released the Jamaican Stripe Jumper, in homage to the Jamaican flag, but in the wrong colours.

Further down the fashion food chain, this week high-street stores Zara and Anthropologie faced claims of cultural appropriation for using traditional Mexican motifs.

Updated: June 2, 2021 05:11 PM

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