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Leaving Cotton On: Michael Jackson merchandise takes a swift exit from store

Cotton On New Zealand is remaining tight-lipped about pulling its Michael Jackson merchandise off the racks.

Although Jackson T-shirts were available on the weekend at stores and online across the country, following the screening of the Leaving Neverland documentary on TVNZ this week, they have disappeared.

When 1 NEWS approached retail staff about the decision to pull the pop-star-branded clothing from the store they were not allowed to comment.

Cotton On's Australian head office has also remained quiet about the move.

However, a quick online search returns a ‘no match’ message, indicating the merchandise may have left the brand.

In recent weeks, allegations of child abuse made against Michael Jackson in the documentary Leaving Neverland have prompted some New Zealand radio stations to stop playing the "King of Pop’s" songs.

The stations include The Breeze, More FM, ZM, The Hits, Flava and Coast.

Last week Cotton On staff told 1 NEWS that T-shirts with the slogan Michael Jackson, Smooth Criminal, featuring a picture of Jackson dancing in the iconic video for the song, had been “hugely popular.”

They said the t-shirts had been on the racks since last year.

"Customers across the spectrum have come in asking about them, literally elderly and young people coming in and asking for them,” she said.

When 1 NEWS asked if it was appropriate the t-shirts were being sold at a time when Jackson was back in the spotlight, she replied that is was a "coincidence."

She said all Cotton On stores across the country stocked the t-shirts and they had been most popular in the December period but were still in demand now.

"We have had a whole nineties theme going on and Michael Jackson did a song called Smooth Criminal so it just relates to that," she said.

The retail assistant said the St. Lukes store only had one t-shirt left and was not aware of any intentions of the company to pull them off the racks.

A Michael Jackson Smooth Criminal shirt purchased from an Auckland Cotton On store. Source: 1 NEWS