02/29/2016 12:28 EST

DSquared2 Apologizes For #dsquaw In Mea Culpa To Indigenous Peoples

"We will continue this journey, learning and educating ourselves."

MILAN — The Canadian brothers behind the DSquared2 label are apologizing to the country's indigenous peoples for using a derogatory term in marketing a fashion line.

The open letter from Toronto-born twin designers Dean and Dan Caten comes nearly a year after the duo and its Milan-based label faced an intense backlash over its fall-winter 2015 line. Hudson's Bay Co. recently announced that Dsquared2 would design the opening ceremony outfit for Canadians competing in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio.

When Dsquared2 unveiled its fall-winter collection last March, a series of posts on the duo's Twitter page and the label's Instagram page made use of the hashtag #dsquaw in reference to the line.

The hashtag — which is a play on the label name — incorporates a term offensive to aboriginal women. The posts were subsequently deleted.

"Our intentions were in good faith but we now understand how this terminology is offensive."

A description of the collection opened with the sentence: "The enchantment of Canadian Indian tribes. The confident attitude of the British aristocracy.'' It went on to describe the line as a "captivating play on contrasts: an ode to America's native tribes meets the noble spirit of Old Europe."

In an official mea culpa addressed to the "indigenous peoples of Canada,'' the duo wrote that the collection was intended to "pay homage'' to their beauty and strength.

"We are sad that our collection, which was meant to be a celebration of cultures, might have caused hurt through our inappropriate use of words,'' the Catens said in the statement.

"Our intentions were in good faith but we now understand how this terminology is offensive. We are truly sorry, and apologize for the disrespect this may have caused.

"We can only hope that by making this mistake we have brought attention to this issue, and learn together more about our country's history. We will continue this journey, learning and educating ourselves about the diversity of the indigenous cultures of Canada: First Nations, Inuit and Metis."

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