In August 2021, a set of photographs supposedly showing a Desigual backpack decorated with the words "I Want More Sex" on sale in the children's section at a Burlington store went viral on social media:
While we advise social media users to be wary of posts relaying what a third party did or said, the above-displayed Facebook user, named Heather, reached out to us after publication with some additional information about who took these images and where they were taken. These pictures were truly taken by Heather's friend, Kelli, at a Burlington store in Montgomery, Alabama.
Kelli told us that she took these photographs after a "near-mom fail" when she almost purchased this backpack from a "back to school" display at Burlington. Kelli said: "It was in the back to school display in between the kids uniforms and the kids shoes with the kids socks and underwear."
The fact that this backpack was in the "back to school" section prompted Heather to post the images on social media with a warning to other parents. Heather said:
We didn't think something like this would go as viral as it did. My post was made to warn parents to check check their kids backpacks before sending then out the door. I am that mom who let's my kids pick out their own backpacks for school; many kids look forward to school shopping. Thinking about looking at every single detail of their backpacks wouldn't have crossed my mind before Kelli brought this bag to my attention.
These images are real and they show a genuine product from the Spanish fashion company Desigual that was on display in a school section of a Burlington store in Alabama. These backpacks, however, were never intended for children.
Desigual said: “This product is not for kids, but for adults, and therefore it belongs to the adult section. We are sorry that it got misplaced. We are talking to the distributor to fix it asap.”
It should be noted that only a single backpack was on this display. It’s possible that someone moved one of these backpacks from their normal display into the children’s section by mistake or possibly as a prank. When someone took a photo and it was posted online, the internet took this as evidence that a company was knowingly and purposefully grooming children for pedophilia. Several companies have been baselessly accused of pushing pedophilia (take, for example, Wayfair) based on similarly scant evidence.
While we're not sure how this product ended up in the children's section, Burlington stated in social media posts that they would have the product removed: "We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. We are partnering with our store operations team members to have this product removed from our stores. Again, thank you for making us aware."
Desigual elaborated to us in an emailed statement:
We would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who has been offended by the design of this backpack.
Please allow us to explain the misunderstanding.
This backpack belongs to our Woman collection, and it is definitely not part of our Kids collection.
Our Kids collection does not currently include any backpacks, as can be seen on our website: https://www.desigual.com/en_US/kids-clothes/
Since this did not happen at any of our stores, but at Burlington, which is a multi brand store that is totally independent from us), our team has contacted them to correct the mistake.
Our designs are intended to make people feel good, so we would like to thank you for letting us know about this situation and for helping us to fix it.
For Desigual, it is important to listen to our customers and people engaged with our brand and be respectful towards them, while we are keeping committed to our values such as authenticity, diversity and freedom to express ourselves.
We reached out to Burlington and will update this article if more information becomes available.