Well, now we can add "wealthy clothing retailers" to that list.
A "Mexican" themed party hosted by Joseph Joseph, owner of the V.I.M clothing chain, featured a number of guests dressed in blatantly offensive costumes, including an "immigrant day laborer," an "immigrant mushroom picker," gang members, and other stereotypical cliches, the New York Post reported.
Hosted at Joseph's Long Island mansion, the August 21 event was the latest in the retail mogul's annual, themed, end-of-summer bashes. It reportedly featured a taco station, as well as hired entertainers, including topless women in Aztec-themed body paint. According to the Post, Latinx waitstaff working the party were particularly incensed by a number of the guests' costumes.
"They were really irritated they had to stand there and serve these people who were wearing all this,” one attendee told the paper. “One Mexican guy said it was hurtful that he had to read all this stuff and kept pointing at the lady with the pink poster sitting in front of us eating. How could she find this funny?"
V.I.M, the clothing chain owned by Joseph, began in 1977 in Brooklyn, and has since expanded to locations across New York and New Jersey. Branded "The Best Jeans and Sneakers Store in America," V.I.M. boasts on its website that it:
Proudly supports the people and communities who have welcomed V.I.M. stores into their neighborhoods.The V.I.M. family continues to work hard at bringing the latest fashions to all of its stores at affordable prices year after year. V.I.M. also takes great pride in listening to their customers’ requests and comments as to what they would like to see available in the stores.
Speaking with the Post, Joseph's wife Ellen apologized for her guests' offensive costumes, and claimed, "we told people to keep politics out of this because we have so many different sides."
Of course, flagrantly misguided costume ideas happen frustratingly often.
In 2015, University of Louisville president James R. Ramsey was photographed at a staff luncheon dressed in a sombrero, and traditionally colored Mexican sarape alongside a group dressed in oversized mustaches and sombreros. That same year, Walmart was spotted selling a "sheik Arab nose" costume, which was essentially an oversized prosthetic proboscis paired with a piece of fabric, meant to look, it seems, like a grossly caricatured offensive Arab stereotype. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
So, to any frat houses, high schoolers, and wealthy clothing retailers out there: Costume parties are lame enough as it is—next time, please don't add racism to the mix.