Pottery Barn has apologized for sales of a Halloween costume consisting of a sushi chef and kimono that Asian American civil rights advocates say they find culturally “offensive,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The American-based home furnishing store chain confirmed late Monday that the items had been removed from its website.
“We did not intend to offend anyone with our Halloween costumes and we apologize,” said Leigh Oshirak, vice president of public relations and marketing for Williams-Sonoma, parent company of Pottery Barn. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”
When the retail store began selling the kimono and sushi-chef costume featuring the Rising Sun of the Japanese flag, the civil rights group asked for an “immediate removal” of the outfit and a request for an apology.
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“Our problem is not with the attire itself; it is with the fact that Pottery Barn is marketing these outfits as costumes,” said Ling Woo Liu, director of strategic communications for Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Liu cited a student-led campaign, “We are a culture, not a costume,” which was launched in 2011 at Ohio University as a way to call attention to racially stereotypical Halloween costumes. The campaign ads include people of different races and ethnicities next to offensive costumes.
Writing via email to the Los Angeles Times, Liu called Pottery Barn’s apology “very passive.”
“It would help to show they have learned a lesson,” she said.
“Like other minorities, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are real people who cannot and should not be commodified as Halloween costumes,” Liu said.
“We were surprised, quite frankly, to see these costumes being sold by a retailer based in San Francisco, a progressive city where more than one-third of residents are of Asian American descent,” Liu wrote in the letter, speaking for multiple groups, including the Asian Law Caucus, which has its headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.