Cotton Inc. Taps Into Consumer Ire Over Fabric Quality

Just as models began walking down the runways of New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, mannequins in the Meatpacking District began walking off the job. The "protest" was part of a film shoot and companion installation for "Cotton Or Nothing," a new marketing program from Cotton Incorporated that addresses consumer reaction to cotton substitution. 

The installation, which was at 14th and Hudson Streets in New York from Sept. 6-Sept. 8, invited consumers to "Join The Protest" by having their picture taken with the striking mannequins and signing the Cotton Or Nothing Manifesto.  Highlights, resources and more information can be found at

"Today's consumers are angry and we are capitalizing on it," says Ric Hendee, Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing for Cotton Incorporated.  Hendee explains that that "Cotton Or Nothing" is an industry-facing marketing program fueled by growing consumer dissatisfaction with poorly-produced garments.

The campaign launched with anonymity over the weekend of New York Fashion Week, with teaser print ads and social media posts from designated spokesperson Mannequin #9. More than 300 humans supported the mannequins' cause by participating in Mannequin Protest, a stop-motion short film by Evan Boehm, which is now available for viewing online.

"The web site gives frustrated apparel consumers a forum to share their fabric fails, and acts as a resource on how to avoid these disappointments," says Hendee.  "With every site visit, posting, and photo upload, apparel shoppers amplify the 'cotton or nothing' message to brands."

Impetus for the campaign came from the Cotton Incorporated Customer Comment Project, which quantified more than 250,000 consumer comments posted on apparel retailer websites.

"We knew from our Lifestyle Monitor survey that consumers were aware of and displeased by the substitution of synthetics in many of their traditionally cotton or cotton-rich apparel," explains Kim Kitchings, Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Program Metrics for Cotton Incorporated.  "The Consumer Comment Project gave us a deeper dive into the specifics."

Among the more frequent consumer complaints are pilling; odor; fading; static cling; shrinking; and loss of shape.
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