Marketing

Totes fail: Cotton On slammed for “You can’t sit with us” carry bags

Kirsten Robb /

Retail chain Cotton On has been forced to recall a range of clothing and accessories featuring quotes from the hit movie Mean Girls, after it was accused of promoting bullying.

The fashion retailer had stocked tote bags, clutches and girls’ T-shirts emblazoned with the bold phrase “You can’t sit with us”, a quote from the popular 2004 comedy about a clique of mean high school girls.

The line is from a scene in the film where the clique’s leader is told she is not allowed to sit with the group because she is wearing sweatpants on Monday.

It’s not the first time an Australian retailer has been hauled over the coals for a T-shirt slogan, and isn’t the only incidence for Cotton On.

The retailer found itself in hot water in 2009, after there was a public backlash to its kids’ range of clothing, which included slogans ‘I’m a tits man’,‘Mummy likes it on top’, ‘The condom broke’, ‘I like big boobs and I cannot lie’ and ‘Practice safe sucks’.

After the ‘You can’t sit with us’ items popped up on Cotton On’s Australian shelves, outraged consumers took to the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages to vent their concern against promoting bullying to their younger clientele.

“What’s up with promoting bullying, @cottononph that ain’t cool at all,” said one commenter, while another called for the retailer to make a public apology.

Cotton On spokesperson Greer McCracken said in a statement the product range had been voluntarily withdrawn from sale, pending a formal investigation.

“As a business underpinned by a sound moral and ethical code, the Cotton On Group does not condone bullying on any level, and takes matters such as this very seriously,” said McCracken.

Ironically, the retailer is known to promote its work with Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, having last year started a mental health campaign targeting the biggest issues affecting young people – bullying, depression and homophobia.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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