Primark: So Last Season

In a world where sustainability matters more than ever, less is more

Emily Kelso
12th May 2022
Image: Instagram @primark
Primark can be a hero or a villain depending on a person’s perspective, but it cannot be denied Primark offers a variety of clothing at cheap prices. Is their business model still appropriate today, however? Would I buy 50 pieces of clothing from Primark, or 10 more expensive and sustainable pieces elsewhere? For me, it’s a no-brainer.

A key factor for me is longevity of clothes: I expect to get my money’s worth. For example, I have had my beloved pair of white Converse low-tops for 6 years and only now are they too holey for use. That is value for money. How does Primark match up? I genuinely cannot recall the number of Primark leggings I have gone through as they do like to rip. Similarly, I bought a jumper a few months ago from Primark and already it feels as if this jumper will disintegrate next time its in the wash. Granted, some Primark products seem to last forever according to some online reviewers, so perhaps I’m just cursed.

Granted, some Primark products seem to last forever according to some online reviewers, so perhaps I'm just cursed

Another factor for buying clothes is sustainability and other ethical concerns. As people have become increasingly concerned about how sustainable our clothes are in an attempt to reduce our carbon footprint, clothing brands have faced an ever-growing duty to improve sustainability. Primark have declared their intent to be more sustainable, but the Ethical Consumer have reported on how Primark has failed to meet its own policies before and continues to participate in unethical practices. Sustainable clothing also tends to be more expensive, so I am curious as to how Primark can manage to sell sustainable and dirt-cheap clothing.

Image: Instagram @primark

The Ethical Consumer have reported on how Primark has failed to meet its own policies before and continues to participate in unethical practices

Image: Instagram @ethicalfashion_review

As much as longevity, sustainability and ethical concerns are important to me and inform my shopping choices, so are my history of clothes shopping and my shopping habits. I would be the first to admit I do not shop for clothes often; the only regular additions to my wardrobe as a teen were band shirts after going to concerts. When not buying band shirts, I often bought good-quality clothing from reputable brands, which were certainly not Primark. Both of these factors have influenced my shopping habits at university: I rarely buy from Primark. In fact, most of my clothes purchases whilst at uni were Joules items.

If it has not already been made apparent, choosing 10 expensive and sustainable pieces of clothing, rather than 50 cheap Primark pieces, would be my decision. Fewer styles is hardly a cause for concern for me, and what I lack in variety I make up for in sustainable items that I can wear for years which are less morally dubious. Ultimately the response to such a question is personal: there may be some who disagree with Primark’s practices but lack the money for expensive pieces. It is a difficult dilemma which for some lack a satisfying answer.

If it has not already been made apparent, choosing 10 expensive and sustainable pieces of clothing, rather than 50 cheap Primark pieces, would be my decision

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AUTHOR: Emily Kelso
Third year History and Archaeology student. Also a Comment Sub-Editor.

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