Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wearing someone's misery

I first saw the link to the shopper finds 'cry for help' label sewn into £10 Primark dress article on Facebook last night. Have you seen it? It's really disturbing. Rebecca Gallagher found this hand-stitched label in her Primark dress:

Hand-stitched label in Primark dress

She phoned Primark for an explanation, was on hold for 15 minutes then cut off. A PR disaster all round then for the high street giant. Articles have popped up like this one on the Huffington Post website (click here for the article) advising people how to shop ethically from eBay, charity shops and vintage boutiques. Harriet Bignall, a writer for the Independent, has said she will continue to shop from bargain retailers because she can't afford to shop ethically (click here for the article).

And this is where we need to have wider demystifying conversation. People need to know that 'ethical' 'sustainable' 'recycling' and 'upcycling' aren't dirty words co-opted by hippies wearing tie-dye. That when you chop up a pair of jeans into shorts for your holiday you just upcycled - it's that easy. That vintage stuff might smell a wee bit but it's a way to really stand out from the crowd and it isn't that expensive to buy. And thanks to Channel 4 and Dawn O' Porter for demonstrating this on prime time TV last night with This Old Thing. 

I haven't shopped from Primark for years. I never take clients there on a personal shopping trip or recommend a client buy anything from there either. The brand just doesn't sit right with me. Why? Because when you buy something from there you are literally wearing someone's misery: long hours, low pay, bad conditions. And how can you feel good about what you are wearing when you know that? 

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