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Louis Vuitton is facing backlash for selling a scarf inspired by the traditional Palestinian keffiyeh.
The luxury brand is selling the “Monogram Keffieh stole” for $705, saying on its website that it’s “inspired by the classic Keffieh and enriched with House signatures.”
“A jacquard weave technique is used to create the intricate Monogram patterns on its base of blended cotton, wool and silk,” the description on the Louis Vuitton site says. “Soft and lightweight with fringed edges, this timeless accessory creates an easygoing mood.”
The post, which included a number of photos of the traditional keffiyeh beside the Louis Vuitton stole, read: “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…”
The caption alluded to a previous statement sent to Diet Prada on May 21 by anonymous sources who said they were associated with LVMH after model Bella Hadid publically supported Palestinian causes on her Instagram account. The statement said: “LVMH’s stance on politics is neutral, but they are not cancelling Bella’s contract.”
At the time of writing, 99,113 people have liked Diet Prada’s latest post about the stole.
Representatives at LVMH did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the criticism.
Khaled Beydoun, an author, scholar, and lawyer, also criticized the scarf, calling it disrespectful and exploitative in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
“Let me be clear, companies and designers like @virgilabloh have the right to make whatever they want to make within the bounds of legality,” Beydoun wrote in the caption of his post, speaking of the brand’s artistic director. “I typically champion artistry and the freedom that comes with it. But this is patently disrespectful and insensitive, on a myriad of levels.”
“Especially right now. Amid 11 days of bombings, land dispossession and 215 Palestinians killed,” he continued, acknowledging the 58,000 Palestinians that were internally displaced and made homeless in Gaza after a week of Israeli airstrikes in May, according to estimated figures from the UN.
Beydoun also touched on the color choices made by the designer, suggesting that the choice of blue and white could be a conscious way of nodding to Israel’s flag and demonstrating a political stance.
“The blue and white colors are either tone deaf or an insidious form of passive political commentary. Or a disastrous attempt at political irony,” he wrote in the post, which has 61,539 likes at the time of writing.
The traditionally black-and-white keffiyeh, or kufiya, has become synonymous with the Palestinian liberation movements and was dubbed by Hirbawi Textile Factory, the Palestinian territories’ last and only keffiyeh factory, as “the unofficial Palestinian flag.”
The intricate pattern, according to Hirbawi, “is said to represent a fishing net, a honeycomb, the joining of hands, or the marks of dirt and sweat wiped off a worker’s brow, among other things.”
It also carries a lot of symbolic significance for the community. Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury, a Palestinian fashion designer, previously told The Guardian that the scarf represents “dispossession, systematic displacement, extrajudicial killings [and] oppression.”
According to the Middle East Eye, the origin of the fabric is uncertain. The keffiyeh, “sometimes called the hata in the Levant, has origins that pre-date Islam and can be traced back to Mesopotamia, when it was worn by Sumerian and Babylonian priests around 5,000 years ago.”
Anu Lingala, author of “A Socio-political History of the Keffiyeh,” told the publication that it was “traditionally associated with working classes,” while cultural historian Jane Tynan told the newspaper that it was used “as a tool to disguise the identity of the wearer from British authorities,” and that “the keffiyeh became shorthand for the Palestinian struggle”.
When speaking to The Guardian, Nasser-Khoury also discussed the frequent co-option of the keffiyeh, telling the publication it is not a “random design” that designers are drawing from, and that “there is a context, there is a power imbalance.”
He added: “You have people who were dispossessed in 1948 and made refugees and they still live in camps in Lebanon and then you use this garment, which carries all that pain, for personal advancement.”
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