AOC’s “Tax the Rich” dress owes debt in multiple states

Aurora James, designer and owner of the brand Brother Vellies, called her dress a “powerful message”. This message said “tax the rich”, written in bright red on the back of a white dress that was worn at one of the most anticipated public events of the year. James decided to use this dress with an impactful message for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Met Gala. While citing a tax warrant database, the New York Post reported that James has not paid her taxes in numerous states. 


“Brother Vellies”, founded in 2013, run by James, called the Cultural Brokerage Agency. Since 2015, in New York the company has had a total of fifteen warrants from the government that were issued against it.


According to the records from New York’s Department of Tax Warrant Notice, the warrants were issued in the New York and Kings counties, from 2015 to 2021. All of the amounts vary, from $989 to $7,492. According to the Department of Taxation and Finance, there are three open warrants in the state of New York, due to her withholding income taxes from employee wages, the sum of $14,798. 


Ocasio-Cortez has also come under some fire for the dress, partly due to her choosing to attend this year’s Met Gala. The event is extremely expensive and costs about $35,000 to attend, however, Ocasio-Cortez and her boyfriend had been given tickets for  free. 


After facing major backlash, she took to Instagram to defend her decision to attend the Met Gala and her choice of the dress saying, “The medium is the message”, referring to the famous phrase by a communications scholar Marshall McLuhan. Referring to the medium itself is of a primary importance compared to what the message is. 


“Fashion is changing, America is changing.” According to Vogue, James said “I think Alexandria and I are a great embodiment of the language fashion needs to consider adding to the general lexicon as we work towards a more sustainable, inclusive and empowered future”. This message James is pushing forward encourages a more successful and inclusive future for the fashion industry despite her mistakes in the past.