Cotton On Group

Cotton On Group is Australia's largest global retailer, known for its fashion clothing and stationery brands. It has over 1,400 stores in 18 countries and employs 22,000 team members globally.

The Cotton On Group is an Australian-born fashion retailer with a suite of eight brands; Cotton On, Cotton On Body, Cotton On Kids, Rubi, Typo, Cotton On LOST, Factorie and Supré.


Cotton On was founded in 1991, with the first store being opened in Geelong, Australia. [1] As of 2019, the Cotton On Group consists of 8 brands with over 1,400 stores in 18 countries.[2]

The company was established by Nigel Austin in Geelong, Australia. Since then the company has launched a number of new brands; Cotton On Kids launched in 2004, followed by Cotton On Body and Factorie in 2007. It expanded to Typo (stationery and gifts), and also Rubi in 2008.[3] In 2013, Cotton On acquired Australian female youth brand Supré.[4]

Cotton On opened its first store outside of Australia, in Queensgate Shopping Centre, New Zealand in 2006,[5] and now operates in 18 countries.

The design team in the company's Australian office, control the steps of production from merchandise planning to establishing specifications, and production is outsourced to approximately 850 suppliers and factories globally. Cotton On Group source their materials and products from a number of locations worldwide with the majority of their suppliers being located in China, Bangladesh, India and Australia. They also work with suppliers in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, the United States and other parts of Asia. [6][7] These facilities are used for horizontal division of labor rather than being integrated.

After the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in April 2013, Cotton On, along with other major Australian retailers, became the focus of a campaign by Oxfam Australia to get the company to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord.[8]

Cotton On Group has set a goal to have 100 per cent sustainable cotton through their supply chain by 2021 through their partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative and their own sustainable cotton growing program in Kenya. In July 2016, Cotton On Group proudly became one of the first Australian retailers to join the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). By 2020, BCI aims to have five million farmers involved in the initiative – producing 8.2 million metric tonnes of sustainable cotton which is 30 per cent of the global cotton production.[9] In partnership with Business for Development, Base Titanium and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Cotton On Group launched a sustainable cotton program in Kwale County, Kenya known as Kenya Cotton. Through the program, they work closely with farmers in Kwale to help them transition from subsistence farming to more sustainable cotton farming practices. Since the project began in 2014 over 2,500 farmers are involved, with many of those doubling their income since coming on board.[10]

As of November 2016 Cotton On, will be the on and off-field apparel sponsor of the Geelong Football Club.[11]

All playing and training equipment as well as all licensed apparel and hats for the AFL Women's eight clubs are manufactured by Cotton On.[12]

The Brands

Cotton On

Born in 1991, Cotton On has grown to become a global fashion destination with more than 600 stores worldwide. Delivering value fashion and quality basics with the trends of the moment (always with their own twist).[13]

Cotton On Kids

Launched in 2004, Cotton On Kids categories include girls and boys apparel, baby apparel, activewear, dress ups, accessories, sleep, swim, gifting and stationery. In March 2013 they launched a tween range, Free by Cotton On, which offers affordable, fashionable and age-appropriate apparel that is designed specifically for 9–14-year-olds.[14]

Cotton On Body

Cotton On Body launched with intimates and sleepwear in 2007. Keeping true to Australian lifestyle and adapting to global trends, they then expanded into swimwear and activewear.[15]


Factorie is a global youth fashion brand, offering accessible street and casual fashion for girls and guys. Factorie joined the Cotton On Group in 2007 and has grown internationally to over 160+ stores across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.[16]


Rubi is a global footwear and accessories brand that translates the latest trends into ownable obsession-worthy products for right now. Launched back in 2008, when the team at the Cotton On Group saw a chance to take their apparel know-how one step further, helping Cotton On womenswear and Cotton On Body customers complete their look, head to toe.[17]


Born in 2009, Typo filled a gap in the market for unique, fun and affordable stationery. Growing from one store in Victoria, there are now over 250 stores in 14 countries, as well as an online destination that ships globally. Our stores are a destination of discovery with re-imagined gifts and stationery. Customers know they can always expect the unexpected - quirky, vintage and irreverent, adding personality to everyday items through humour, graphics and design. What started as a stationery brand has now evolved our offering to include gifts, techware, décor and travel accessories. Our broad range of one-of-a-kind products has seen Typo become the ultimate gifting destination.[18]


Established in 1984, Supré is one of the most iconic and recognisable brands in the female youth market. Part of the Cotton On Group since 2013, Supré has more than 1,000 team members across 100+ retail stores in Australia and New Zealand. Known for being a value-fashion leader, providing an interactive on-trend world for a style-aware, global girl.[19]


Cotton On LOST was launched in late 2018 to make every journey an adventure. The brand delivers affordable and on trend bags and accessories for the everyday traveller. The range includes travel luggage and accessories to commuter bags and backpacks.[20]

The Company Worldwide

Number of stores as of July 2019[21][22]


  • Brazil (8)
  • United States (154)


  • UK (22)


  • Malaysia (81)
  • Singapore (77)
  • Hong Kong (5)
  • Philippines (36)
  • Thailand (15)
  • Indonesia (32)

Middle East and Africa:

  • UAE (34)
  • Saudi Arabia (3)
  • Oman (1)
  • Jordan (2)
  • South Africa (169)
  • Namibia (6)
  • Botswana (1)


  • Australia (688)
  • New Zealand (126)

The Cotton On Foundation

Launched in 2007, the Cotton On Foundation, is the Cotton On Group's philanthropic arm,[23] dedicated to empowering youth through quality education globally.

Through a unique partnership with customers and team members, the Foundation is focused on empowering youth globally through the delivery of education projects in Uganda, South Africa, Thailand and Australia. Their child-centric model, focuses on delivering quality education, and removing the barriers to education that children currently face, ensuring they have a brighter future full of opportunities and possibility.[24] They believe that a quality education gives every child the potential to change the world.

Since 2007, the Cotton On Foundation as created 10,000 educational places and have raised almost $90,000,000. Cotton On Foundation products are sold in Cotton On Group stores globally with 100% off the proceeds contributing to empowering youth through quality education. Working inline with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Cotton On Foundation aims to provide quality education and clear pathways for every child in communities they partner with.[25]


The Good

The Group launched their ethics and sustainability platform, The Good in September 2018 as a way to share with customers the work the business is doing in an effort to make a positive difference to their environment, people, products and supply chain.[26] The Good focuses on four key areas:

  • Made with Good: collaborating with partners to make the stuff you love, sustainably.
  • Doing Good for their people: empowering their network of suppliers, garment workers and farmers through policy and education.
  • Taking Good steps towards green: believing that big change starts with them, they are on a continuous journey of improvement to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • A Good look at their supply chain: Creating transparency in their supply chain from start to finish.

Each of these focus areas exist to enforce the Cotton On Group’s ethical approach to doing business.

The Cotton On Group’s Ethical Sourcing Program, including their 14 Rules to Trade[27] which guide and govern the sourcing, manufacturing and supply of all products. The decision to move to a direct sourcing model in 1997 means their Ethical Sourcing Program is underpinned by the strong and long-standing relationships they have built with suppliers over the last 20 years.

With a major focus on traceability, the Cotton On Group are committed to end-to-end mapping of their entire supply chain and have been working hand-in-hand with suppliers to understand in greater detail where and how their products are made. The importance of such a program lies from a supply chain management perspective. Supply chain management refers to the strategic analysis of key activities that add value to the good or service delivered [28]. The increasing trends in globalisation among the fashion industry have resulted in disconnected relationships between suppliers and manufacturers, and thus, inconsistency in the practices of a firm [29]. Sustainability policies have therefore become a primary concern for many organisations, requiring consideration of environmental, social and economic dimensions [30]. The Cotton On Group have addressed multiple aspects of each dimension throughout the content of their aforementioned 14 rules of trade.

The textile and garment manufacturing industry is the second greatest contributor to pollution in developing countries [31], with Cotton On housing majority of their factories in Bangladesh, India and China [32]. The manufacturing process also generates large amounts of waste water which is further discharged into water systems [33]. Rule 13 addresses such, in stating that there will be ‘No use of banned raw materials or raw practices’ including Uzbekistan cotton, Angora fur and Azo dyes. This follows after the fashion industry saw a shift towards use of sustainable materials, as implemented by H&M and Zara [34].

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

In 2016, the Cotton On Group proudly became one of the first Australian retailers to join the BCI.[35] BCI is a not-for-profit organisation[36] stewarding the global standards for Better Cotton, and bringing together cotton’s complex supply chain, from the farmers to the retailers. BCI works with a diverse range of stakeholders to promote measurable and ongoing improvements to social, environmental and economic issues in cotton-farming communities in 21 countries around the world. Through their partnership with BCI, they’re already sourcing enough Better Cotton to make over 2 million products across our brand portfolio. The Cotton On Group have set themselves a goal to have 100 per cent sustainable cotton through their supply chain by 2021 through their partnerships with the Better Cotton Initiative and through their own unique sustainable cotton growing program in Kenya[37].

Kenyan Cotton Initiative

In 2014, in partnership with Business for Development, Base Titanium and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Cotton On Group, launched their own sustainable cotton program in Kwale County, Kenya[38]. Since the program began in 2014, they have worked closely with farmers in Kwale to help them transition from subsistence farming to more sustainable cotton farming practices. During the first year of the Kenya Cotton program, the Group worked with 144 local farmers by funding the training and setup of each farm and they are committed to purchasing 100 per cent of the cotton lint, which is of a premium grade. In 2018, the program involved over 2,500 farmers which saw roughly 1,600 tonnes of raw cotton harvested and assisted many of those farmers in doubling their income since joining.[39]

Excitingly, the Kenya Cotton Program has re-established the Kenya Government’s faith in cotton farming as a significant driver of both employment and economic growth, so much so that the Kenya Government will soon replicate the model across the country.

Further recognition for the program came as the Group was named with the 2019 Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year at the May 2019 World Retail Congress Awards.[40]

Cotton On Foundation water bottles

In 2017, the Cotton On Foundation partnered with VISY to deliver recycled and recyclable water bottles, made in Australia from 100% recycled PET materials. What’s more? 100% of proceeds from the sale of a Cotton On Foundation product contributes to empowering youth through quality education.[41]

Cotton On Body recycled activewear and swimwear

In 2019, Cotton On Body launched recycled activewear and swimwear capsule collections. Made from recycled polyester fibres, the activewear collection gave old fibres a new life with new active tights, shorts and crops. The Swimwear capsule collection range is made from recycled nylon waste such as old fishing nets and consumer plastics that would have otherwise ended up in landfill and our oceans.[42]

Sustainable packaging

In October 2018 the Cotton On Group commenced a program to remove plastic shopping bags from our global store network. Beginning in New Zealand, the business made a goal to remove all single-use plastic bags from its stores by June 2019, of which it achieved in April 2019 and as a result, the Group has stopped 38 million plastic shopping bags from entering the environment annually.[43] As part of this initiative, they encourage customers to actively reduce the use of bags by bringing their own shopping bag when making a purchase. Alternatively, they ask customers to purchase a 100% recyclable paper bag, made from a minimum of 80% post-consumer recycled materials.


In December 2012 Cotton On was fined $1 million for selling highly flammable children's sleepwear misleadingly labeled as low fire danger. The discount clothing retailer, which has more than 900 outlets across the country, was fined $400,000 for selling more than 1000 nightdresses that breached Australian fire safety standards, and a further $400,000 for selling more than 1000 unsafe pairs of girls' pajamas, between September and December 2010. It was fined a further $200,000 for false and misleading labels on both sets of clothing items which claimed they were low fire danger.[44]


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  31. ^ Yusuf, Rafiu Olasunkanmi; Sonibare, Jacob (2004). "Characterization of textile industries' effluents in Kaduna, Nigeria and pollution implications". Global Nest Journal. 6 (3): 212–221.
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