Loathe: Primark

primark, cheap fashion, us, open letter

A $5 tank top and a $15 bathingsuit from Primark. Who would buy a $15 bathingsuit?!?!

Dear Primark,

The BBC published a very interesting article about how you might be received in the US when you opens your first store in Boston soon. It talks about how people buy in volume when they shop with you, some push around giant carts which they fill up with cheap clothing, and others buy in bulk (seriously – one of the examples was five of the same item, and they weren’t black socks.)

primark, cheap fashion, us, open letter

A $15 bag and a $17 pair of shoes from Primark. I cna only imagine the disgusting, synthetic materials these must be made of, and I’m sure the shoe’s fit is crippling.

You must make a lot of money. In fact, I know you make a lot of money from your cheap clothes. In a world where rampant consumerism is killing people (literally – think Rana Plaza) it makes me sad that your company is expanding. When Primark first opened on London’s Oxford Street, I shopped there a lot. I went in and braved the crowds and the mess and bought tons of your cheap crap.

primark, cheap fashion, us, open letter

Fast forward five years, and aside from a few pairs of socks, I no longer own a SINGLE Primark item. Some I sold (for very, very cheap) and the rest I gave or threw away. Most were new or worn once. I didn’t keep them because they were either cheap, tacky, falling apart, or ridiculous impulse purchases. While I certainly didn’t spend thousands in your store, I am pretty sure that all my Primark purchases could have bought me a very nice bag or pair of shoes that would have lasted me many years. Instead, the money was wasted, and the clothes discarded.

cheap clothes, infographic

Click to enlarge.

Your clothing is cheap. Your materials are hideous. You manufacture your products in countries whose minimum wage is not a living wage, and in factories that don’t treat their workers fairly. Your stores are a crowded, disgusting mess. You make people wait an hour in line to return something, so in the end, most of them just throw it away. I’ll bet Primark is the reason why landfills are filled to the brim with crappy clothes. All this do we can have more $5 tank tops? I’m disgusted that I counted myself as one of your customers.

People think they are saving money with you, but there couldn’t be a truer false economy: your customers end up with clothing that used precious resources and encouraged poor labour practices and the item will most likely get throw out after five wears (if it even lasts that long.)

primark, cheap fashion, us, open letter

T-shirt from Ecoterre – and a question we should all be asking ourselves next time we buy something.

I know this letter isn’t going to force you to rethink your labour practices or your practice of encouraging people to buy piles of cheap crap they don’t need, but if I’ve made one person rethink stocking up on poorly made garments from your unpleasant stores, then I’ll consider this a success.


  • Trouble&Strumpet

    I can only add the comment of my then-13-year-old son when we ventured into the Bristol branch of Primark last year in a vain search for red jeans. “Breathe in….. that’s the reek of polyester and crushed dreams’ A bit over the top stylewise, but true.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    You have a very well spoken boy!

  • Ana O

    I agree completely. Super cheap clothes come at high cost to workers and the environment + last virtually no time + usually look bad. It’s worth investing in something slightly more expensive – but also more ethical and durable – or going 2nd hand.

  • @Elaryen

    You know what I loathe? The term “haul” referring to shopping sprees hahaha.

    I’ve never set foot in a Primark, there are none where I live, but of course we have local equivalents. The process of rethinking my shopping habits happened awhile ago (1-2y) for me, gradually moving towards a more concious approach (and not just for clothing). That and I love thrifting.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Haul is only appropriate if you’ve had an awesome flea market haul and bought a bunch of stuff you need for a fraction of the price of a new version.