The company called it an “oversight.”
Black Greek Organizations are not playing around when it comes to their letters and symbols. Recently, Boosie Badazz came under fire after he was spotted out and about wearing a Kappa Alpha Psi sweatshirt. The rapper didn’t think it was a big deal and expressed that he picked up the shirt because he thought he would look good in it. However, Kappas put pressure on Boosie enough that he issued a formal apology for not knowing how important the organization is to its members.
Fashion brand Ralph Lauren is also sending out a public apology to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. after they used the organization’s letters and symbols on a pair of $334 pants. The fraternity, which was reportedly founded at the historically black college Howard University, complained that the Ralph Lauren Corporation was attempting to “capitalize off of black culture.”
A Change.org petition was even launched, calling for the company to publicly apologize—and that’s exactly what they did. According to NBC News, a Ralph Lauren spokesperson claimed that the use of Phi Beta Sigma’s symbols was a mistake. “The use of these symbols on our products was an oversight for which we deeply apologize,” the spokeswoman said. “We are immediately taking action to remove the 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.”
She added, “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 company also claims that they’ve contacted the fraternity.