KEY POINTS

  • Controversy erupted after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, released a sweater reading "tax the rich" for $58
  • Critics said it was ironic that apparel with that message was priced higher than typical clothing
  • They were quickly overwhelmed by comments noting that the source of the price was ethical production guidelines, and that profits went to organizing and activism

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., sparked some controversy this week with “Tax The Rich” sweatshirts priced at $58. The irony of high-priced sweatshirts advocating for wealth redistribution wasn't lost on many.

But the negative responses to the campaign was far outdone by responses from apparel designers and Ocasio-Cortez herself highlighting that the expense was due to ethical working conditions and local sourcing. 

The sweatshirts were only available for preorder but had already sold out by Thursday afternoon.

The sweatshirts' launch sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle, with Republicans calling it typical liberal hypocrisy and some Democrats saying the money would be better spent on political contributions.

On the other side of the debate was how the sweatshirts were reasonably priced given the factors that produced them. The purchase page on Ocasio-Cortez’s website state that the sweatshirts were made by union workers and that proceeds fund progressive organizing and activism.

The sweatshirts are yet another flashpoint in the ongoing debate within the Democratic party over messaging and what slogans should be adopted. Former President Barack Obama recently weighed in, saying that progressives like Ocasio-Cortez should be given a larger platform but aggressive phrases like “defund the police” scare moderates. 

aoc Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waits to hear testimony from Michael Cohen before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images