From the 9/10 Show – Kitson – A Breakthrough Retailer

The radio show was going to originally ignore this topic.  Last month Kitson,  “a fashion boutique for the stars” and relatively small retail chain in California began selling t-shirts that reflected a sports look with large numbers on the back.  Above the numbers were the names “Adderall, Vicodin or Xanax”.

My first inclination was a marketing team at Kitson that did not understand the ramifications of attempting to sell the t-shirts.  However, what impact could a small chain have on the drug epidemic in North America by selling a few inappropriate t-shirts?

Kitson quickly received national attention.  Most notably, a Today Show host told her viewers to not shop Kitson until they remove the t-shirts.  Kitson, in part fired back, “The t-shirts are simply a mirror of what is occurring in our culture”.

The Attorney Generals from three states in which Kitson doesn’t even have stores also got publicly involved.  Kitson’s reply to the AG’s was admirable.  In part:  Kitson indicated the t-shirts should open up dialogue between parents and children and why aren’t the Attorney Generals concerned with the sixteen hours of prescription drug commercials available to children weekly?

Kitson has offered to give proceeds to the Drug Abuse Project which is sponsored by  Partnership has smugly refused the offer of donations from Kitson.

Partnership has no issues with apparently accepting sponsorship money from a number of narcotic manufacturers, but they self-righteously refused to accept money from Kitson who has offered to help start a discussion for many families concerning substance misuse.

Kitson’s public response is to be admired.  They said “families need to talk”.  The t-shirts open up needed discussions between parents and children.

The actress Kirsten Johnson created attention with her public outcry claiming that Kitson is irresponsible to be selling the t-shirts.  This radio show has great respect for Kirsten Johnson and I hope she will take Kitson’s challenge to help create better dialogue about the role prescription drugs are playing in our communities.

The radio show has no desire to surmise the motivation behind Kitson’s decision to sell the t-shirts.  They may have thought they were cute, sincerely wanted to make a social statement, or simply wanted to make a quick buck.

The original Kitson decision is immaterial.  I admire the response Kitson has given by not backing down to the powers that want to maintain the drug epidemic with “business as usual”.

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8 Responses to From the 9/10 Show – Kitson – A Breakthrough Retailer

  1. “Breakthrough retailer”? You have got to be effing kidding me. They are selling shirts that use other companies’ registered trademarks without their permission and that glamorize the abuse of RX drugs by putting drug names on”hip” and “stylish” shirts aimed at young people.

    Kitson never had ANY intention of selling the shirts to “start a dialogue,” nor did they intend on donating any money to any non-profits. They were, from the get-go, out to make money by glamorizing prescription drugs. Pure and simple. Only after Kristen Johnston, parents who have lost loved ones to RX drug overdoses, anti-drug agencies, and state attorneys general complained did Kitson put their “spin machine” in overdrive.

    I still believe there’s a chance that Pfizer (Xanax), Shire (Adderall), and AbbVie (Vicodin) will take Brian Lichtenberg and Kitson to court. And, if they do, I hope the “designer”–who designs by stealing other companies’ legal property–and the IRRESPONSIBLE (not “breakthrough”) retailer get squished like a bug on a windshield at 100 miles per hour.

    “Kitson’s public response is to be admired.” How much of the profits from these shirts did Kitson pay you to write THAT sentence??

    • Larry says:

      Kitson did not contact me or encourage my comments. Pfizer, Shire and AbbVie are responsible for tens of thousands of negative outcomes and Kitson becomes the villian? Pulling the drugs in question will save many more lives than pulling the t-shirts. The last thing Pfizer, Shire and AbbVie need is more scrutiny on the dangers of their narcotics so it will be interesting if they bring in their lawyers. It continues to intrigue me how the legal drug cartels find support from people who appear to be concerned about the drug epidemic…….. Programming note: Kitson is a scheduled guest on the radio show Tuesday night.

      • Have you ever seen an ad from Pfizer, Shire, or AbbVie suggesting that Xanax, Adderall, or Vicodin is “hip” or “trendy” or “cool”? I think not. But that’s the message Kitson is sending with these shirts.

        These trendy retailers that cater to young people just don’t care anymore. Case in point: Urban Outfitters applying for a liquor license for their new store in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) so that patrons can drink while they shop.

        Kitson has to take responsibility for what they sell. But they don’t care. They know the RX drugs are edgy and create controversy. How about if they sell shirts that say “RECOVERY ROCKS” or “SOBRIETY IS BADASS” or…you get the idea.

        The Kitson rep was taken to task on “The Doctors” show the other day. For good reason. These shirts are sickening.

        • Larry says:

          Why is Kitson so obnoxious to you and not the drug manufacturers? T-Shirts don’t kill people. As for the doctor’s show, the AMA has supported the distribution of these drugs for many years. Where is the outrage?

  2. Hi Larry,

    My own first response when I heard about Kitson’s shirts was outrage. I encouraged our members to boycott Kitson, to write letters, send emails, and even Facebook Kitson. Then I researched Kitson and I “got” it. Kitson a little second rate apparel chain knew exactly what they were doing. They were not only going to sell shirts to young people that were “hip” they could garner a lot of publicity, negative publicity, and what good does negative publicity do? Just ask Charlie Sheen, Mylee Cyrus, and Lindsey Lohan dozens of other stars who have made money, lots of money off of negative publicity.

    Larry, if you really believe “Kitson’s public response is to be admired. ” then either you don’t have teenagers or you are one lucky parent. For most families Kitson’s comment, “families need to talk”. The t-shirts open up needed discussions between parents and children,” is spurious at best. A discussion between parents and their teens about shirts would not open dialogue, it is much more likely start a battle that would end in tears or door slamming. And what’s worse, is if Kitson really believes their own comment. American families do not need a fashion apparel company to give lessons in parenting, it is difficult enough in these times. Kitson should leave parenting to the experts.

    American society is spending more than 450 Billion dollars a year on homelessness, child abuse, child hunger, divorce, aids, healthcare, crime, all of these have deep roots in addiction. Furthermore, families with addiction wear a the “Scarlet Letter” of our time. The letter “A” for addiction means families still feel stigma, shame and trying to keep this terrible secret, a secret that kills over 320 Americans every day.

    So Kitson, go ahead and make light of our National Tragedy and make your piddly amount of dollars off the despair and pain of 23.5 million Americans. But whether a carefully orchestrated campaign or a ill-timed fashion faux pas, there are millions of American mothers who will not forget or forgive.

    And Larry, next time you do a show on addiction please speak to a mother of an addict, better yet a mother who has lost a child, maybe your perspective would be a little less shallow.


    Duana Wilkins
    Executive Director, The Addict’s Mom

    • Larry says:


      I am pleased you discovered the radio show. It is obvious you have never listened or read my blogs. In the seven years of doing the show I hear weekly from grieving parents who have lost dearly. As “well meaning” organizations, such as yours ignore the site, I read it daily. I remain dumbfounded that while the active ingredients of Vicodin, Xanax and Adderall are negatively affecting tens of thousands of people there is more outrage over some t-shirts from a small retailer. The radio show is about the hypocrisy of the drug epidemic. Courtney Saavedra, Director of Operations for Kitson will be my guest tomorrow night beginning at 5:05 pm eastern time. Please listen to an enlightened viewpoint. Although I am not aware of “The Addicts Mom”, most organizations remain measured in their message so as not to upset the Pharma message. What’s more important to you: removing Adderall from the college campus or removing some t-shirts in 10 stores? What’s more important to you: removing Xanax and Vicodin from the medicine cabinets to prevent severe withdrawal and death or removing a few t-shirts from a small retailer? With respect, your priorities are typical with the drug message that is going nowhere in this country as millions suffer and tens of thousands continue to die.

  3. Steve Hayes says:

    If Kitson is violating federal law concerning intellectual property, then they are at fault and should either withdraw the products violating the law or license the right. The law protecting intellectual property is very clear.

    However, attacking the message sent by the T-shirt misses the point. Having run a medical detox center and comforted the families of people whose lives were ruined by these drugs, the drugs mentioned are very dangerous and often create tragic results. Instead of spending millions of dollars glorifying these drugs in commercials, the drug companies should interview the people whose lives were drastically affected by the drugs.

    Unfortunately, many of the symptoms “treated” by these drugs are also symptoms of real medical problems that go untreated and continue to worsen. This is real tragedy. Had the people been properly diagnosed prior to being prescribed these drugs, most would have been treated for the right thing and the resulting terrible side effects would not have occurred.

    Maybe Kitson violated the law but you cannot over emphasize the point that these are dangerous drugs and often misused or incorrectly prescribed.

    My website at discusses this in more detail.

  4. Tony Gerardi says:

    I can understand why some may question the motive of the t-shirts. I can also understand the passion, PEOPLE ARE DYEING! The bottom line for me is it is bringing attention to these DEADLY DRUGS and cant hurt for sure.
    Think about this, why does a product on a t-shirt a negative? We are told it is medicine to “help” people. Why is their medicine a negative? Why if it is helping people , is there a outrage? IMHO because they are dangerous drugs including OPIATE NARCOTICS from the same plant as HEROIN, that are killing people. Take as directed, really? How do u take heroin as directed? I have heard doctors, pharmacists, addicts, scientists, police all say this “medicine” is” interchangeable” with HEROIN! Why are government officials mad at the t-shirts, didn’t our government approve them all? Maybe they should be outraged at the people who APPROVED them. People are dyeing from these drugs who had no intention of “abusing” them. A product that is sold in streets to drug addicts , how good could it be? Billions and billions dollars being made that are killing people daily. IMHO the FDA approved legal heroin with the pain killers and other dangerous drugs and they are killing people and their response is they “abused” them. The FDA abused the American people by allowing drug companies deal out this stuff.
    Outrage from government officials about a product they allowed approved , where is the outrage on WHY it was approved and HOW?

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