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Louis Vuitton under fire for culturally appropriating Middle Eastern culture

Louis Vuitton has been criticised for cultural appropriation after selling a ‘Monogram Keffiyeh Stole’ on their website.

The scarf, which had been selling for $705, was quickly identified to be a keffiyeh.

In the Middle East, a keffiyeh is a chequered scarf worn as a form of traditional headdress, typically as a turban or as “a circlet of rope called an agal”.

traditional keffiyeh
Photo: AFP/Abbas Momani via middleeasteye.net

Over the years, the scarf has grown to: “become a symbol of resistance and solidarity” in the Middle East.

At the same time, with the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis unfolding between Israel and Palestine, the keffiyeh has come to symbolise Palestine’s “self-determination, nationalism and [their] struggle against the occupation of their land by Israel”.

The scarf, which the fashion house described “as being ‘inspired by the classic Keffiyeh and enriched with House signatures,’” quickly caught the attention of Instagram fashion blog, Diet Prada.

 

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“So LVMH’s stance on politics is ‘neutral,’ but they’re still making a $705 logo-emblazoned keffiyeh, which is a traditional Arab headdress that’s become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. Hmmmm…” posted Diet Prada to their 2.7 million Instagram followers.

They also included a series of photos which contained side-by-side comparisons of Louis Vuitton’s scarf and the traditional keffiyeh. Much of Louis Vuitton’s scarf mimics the keffiyeh, right down to the patterns (excluding the brand’s LV logo).

On top of this, people were also quick to point out that Louis Vuitton’s colour choices of blue and white (the colours of Israel’s flag) was also irresponsible and tone-deaf.

The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad, had this to say regarding the matter:

“The timing is horrible, families have been wiped out, hundreds of people killed, thousands injured in brutal violence against a captive population in Gaza … The keffiyeh is very near and dear to our hearts as Palestinians and to see it appropriated is highly offensive, especially during this time, in an effort to make a buck.”

As of now, Louis Vuitton has not issued a statement.