Primark. You might love it, you might hate it, if you are living in the United Kingdom you will have heard of it and have some sort of opinion on it. It’s the very essence of fast fashion. Cheap clothing mass produced to epic proportions, see something you like? Well the moment it is gone, its gone.
The store began in the Republic of Ireland where it is called Penneys. Its largest presence and consumer base is in the U K and Ireland, but it now has spread to 12 different countries. It has seen many scandals over the years, most directly linked to working conditions in its supplier’s factories. Fast fashion does not have a reputation for either ethical sourcing and working conditions, or sustainability.
The brand has an intense popularity in its central London stores. There the multiple- storied Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street stores are a flurry with tourists snatching up the cheap bargains, ready to drag their suitcases home with the affordable fashion straight from London. It’s almost terrifying, and by that I mean if you value your safety and welfare don’t go near the Oxford Street Primark on a Saturday, or a Friday night or ever really…
One shopper, who does her best to avoid the clothing brand described it as: “A feral hotbed where morals and ethical behaviour are abandoned. Clothes are thrown left and right and grow into mountains in the corner.”
While perhaps a little harsh this captures what is occasionally the spirit of the store. Or at least the quick, hungry energy of its shoppers. But the immense piles of clothing, varying music, and fluorescent white lights do little to encourage calm. To shop at Primark you need a strong spirit and a quick eye. (Aspirin, water, and something to do to pass the time spent queuing are also recommended.)
Yet, the store also has an undeniable appeal for many. It all comes down to price and options. Have you seen a coat you love but can’t afford it, it’s more than likely you will be able to find some version at Primark.
And then there are the branded products. Harry Potter fan? Primark has you covered. Pyjamas, pillows, notebooks, scarves, why go the Platform 9 ¾ shop when you could go to Primark? The Tottenham Court Road store even has a decorated section dedicated too it. It has a pretty good handle on Disney too, there’s even a Mary Poppins eye shadow palette created to accompany the release of Mary Poppins Returns.
And those are just the generic ones. Do you love Rachel and Ross, (if you do, you have questionable taste, but never mind that), be sure to pick up a Friends- themed bedspread, which is available. In fact there is very little you can’t buy from Primark. Phone chargers, and protein bars are lined up for sale along the counters. My own hairdryer, which has now lasted over a year without exploding, was a Primark purchase. £8, and I splurged for the better option too.
One of the last times I was in the store I made a larger purchase, I paid £12 for a pair of jeans. Not extravagant in any sense of the word, but I had presumed that for £12, I wouldn’t be covered in blue ink every time I wore them. It has been four months, and despite numerous washes the staining continues. Ever wondered what you would be like cast in James Cameron’s Avatar? Well I don’t have to.
Whether or not you shop at the store really comes down to a question of cost versus quality. Quality is assured to be far from brilliant. ‘Alright’ would be the average, while good is the closest equivalent to excellent the store can muster. Yet I find myself returning again and again, because the cheap cost comes with such variety.
TK Maxx may provide high quality brands at reduced prices, and of course there are outlet malls. But often, thanks to the sheer mass and variety Primark has exactly what you are looking for.
Tennille shared her opinion on Primark with 7DNews: “Love it. Bought a dress for £1 that I literally wear for everything from work to church to the beach to a concert to dinner.......£1”
Jared, who spent two years as a proselyting missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, told 7DNews that he loved it, saying it was: “very handy as a missionary, I bought suits and satchels.”
For others the store is useful for small necessary purchases and conveniences.
Maria told 7DNews that for her it is: “hit and miss, I find sizes inconsistent and so usually only get socks and pyjamas from there. However, if I desperately need something and it's too short notice to order from ASOS I'll usually find what I need in Primark.”
Douglas agreed with this, he said: “the only thing I buy there are plain slim fit T-shirts, I wouldn’t shop for a more complicated garment there to be honest, but the T-Shirts are good, for the £1.6 each I paid for them.”
In many ways the store acts as an equaliser. While quality may not be assured, the low quality of garments is not always noticeable. For those who mid-ground clothing stores such as Next and Marks & Spencer’s are not affordable, Primark provides a way to dress to the same level. A cheap Primark suit may be cheap, but it is still a suit.