Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Popular retailer pulls controversial clothing, accessories from sale

The slogan has attracted criticism.
The slogan has attracted criticism.

A retail chain popular with young people has pulled a line of clothing and accessories following calls that they promoted bullying behaviour.

Cotton On - an Australian company with dozens of branches around New Zealand - has stopped selling a range of products with the slogan: "You Can't Sit With Us".

The slogan was printed on items including girls' T-shirts, bags and clutches. It is thought that the use of the term was inspired by a clip in the 2004 movie Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan.

Members of the public turned to social networking and blog sites to vent their anger at the use of the slogan, saying it promoted bullying.

"Really, Cotton On? I know it's a quote from Mean Girls and I know it is meant to be cute, but don't we have enough trouble with bullying?" one post said. Several people wrote on the company's Facebook page that they were boycotting the store because of its use of the term - with one girl pointing out that she had been told this regularly at high school.

"Why can't it say, 'Do you want to hang out with us?"' a Facebook user wrote.

This is not the first time controversy has hit the retail chain. In 2009, Cotton On Kids came under fire for its range of clothing for babies that included slogans such as "I'm a tits man", and "The condom broke".

Cotton On Group spokeswoman Greer McCracken said: "The product range has been voluntarily withdrawn from sale, pending a formal investigation. This is 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."

- NZ Herald

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