Whilst riding home from work on a sunny Summers day in Berlin, I spotted a massive billboard with the words “Primark Geoffnet Donnerstag 3 Juli”. Another Primark store was opening in central Berlin
I first encountered Primark when I last went to London about 18 months ago (yes I know i am so delayed). I remember stepping into the store and seeing masses of people, clasping masses of garments, standing in massive lines waiting for one of the masses of cash registers to be free. I didn’t get too far into the store, but on brief inspection the garments were made of super thin textiles and were fairly minimal in terms of detailing. The experience in the new Berlin store was no different.
I was happy to find some articles on the net showing that some Berliners chose to protest against the new store at Alexanderplatz.
The enormous shopping bags reflect the quantity of clothing girls and guys are collecting.
Why am I so anti Primark?
For me, Primark represents all that is wrong with the fashion industry.These companies prioritise the generation of mass profits without considering the environmental or ethical implications of their actions. As shoppers we need to think ‘If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.’ When a garment is dirt cheap we should be wondering how this is possible. One of the major concerns with Primark is the working conditions of the people who make the clothes. Reports show that workers work long hours, for wages that they can barely live off. Safety issues have also come to light in recent years, particularly after the April 24 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. 1133 people died in this disaster, with many people significantly injured (Fashion Revolution).
Cheap, fast, throw away fashion is really what places Primark at the top of the Fast Fashion problem. Primark produces cheap, poor quality clothing which ultimately ends up in landfill. By having cheap, poor quality clothes, the clothes are less likely to survive many wears and are then disposed of. The fashion industry is responsible for producing 1 million tonnes of waste in our landfills (wasteonline) which is certainly an environmental concern.
‘If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.’
Environmental and ethical concerns also branch into textile production. Chemicals are used in farming practices as well as textile production where farmers experience medical related problems (Textile Exchange). Waterways also suffer, where chemicals are flushed into them and consequently poisoning the surrounding wildlife, communities and environment. The large quantity of water needed to produce cotton is also a massive environmental concern, with the Indian textile industry gulping an estimated ‘425,000,000 gallons of water every day  to process the fabrics it produces.’ (O Ecotextiles)
What do we need to start doing?
Be curious! Like the Fashion Revolution advocates. Think about where your clothes come from. For the sewers/designers, think about where your textiles come from. We need to put pressure on these organisations to improve standards in their factories. We also need to reconsider the amount of fsahion that we consume. Instead of buying 3 cheap tshirts, buy one tshirt made of better quality, more ecologically responsible materials.
This documentary gives some insight into the ongoing human rights problems within the fashion industry
Fashion Revolution. Retrieved from http://fashionrevolution.org/
O Ecotextiles. Retrieved from https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/
Textile Exchange. Making informed choices. Retrieved from http://textileexchange.org/content/making-informed-choices
Wasteonline. Retrieved from http://www.wasteonline.org.uk/