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Sexist clothing tag shrinks Madhouse’s appeal

A pair of Madhouse pants came with washing instructions to "give it to your woman," spurring controversy on Twitter. 


Kris Holt

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 6, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 8:28 pm CDT

Last month, the boyfriend of Emma Barnett bought a pair of pants from a discount clothing store named Madhouse. While there’s nothing remarkable about that by itself, the label on the apparel has caused consternation among Twitter users.

Barnett, The Telegraph’s digital media editor, tweeted a photo of the label. Along with detailed washing instructions, it prompted the owner of the pants to “give it to your woman” to wash, since “it’s her job.”

The tweet caused a ruckus among the Twitter community, with many leaping to describe the pants as “sexist,” “awful,” and even “homophobic.

Julia Hines, the chair of the charity Age UK, claimed the pants were “extraordinary” and encouraged Barnett to “name & shame” the brand responsible for them.

On the other hand, some community members have defended the pants and Madhouse, claiming that they’re simply a joke.

“#madhouse is now my favourite shop after the washing label on their chinos! #shutupfeminists #takeajoke,” tweeted student Richard Adams.

“Someone needs to learn to take a joke,” wrote writer and photographer Stephen Robinson.

After Barnett published an article on the Twitter reaction to her photo, Madhouse explained what happened on its own account in a series of tweets:

“#Madhouse has only been made aware of the care instuction [sic] on this product today. The wording was not instigated by #Madhouse.”

“The wording on the Chinos in #Madhouse is clearly meant to be a joke but now it has been pointed out we will be more careful in future.”

“The Chinos in question are manufactured by a jeans brand that we stock but the care instructions were not proofed by our #Madhouse buyers.”

That sounds almost like an apology—almost. 

Photo by jim212jim

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*First Published: Mar 6, 2012, 3:51 pm CST