Despite the factory collapse in Bangladesh, ethics are soon forgotten when faced with a £5 dress

Primark shoppers say they are attracted by the price and style of clothing, not its quality or origins

The fashion equivalent of fast food, Primark has created a new breed of shopper: who considers its discount clothing so addictively cheap and disposable that they hoard items with little concern if they need or want it.

At Primark's flagship branch in Oxford Street, central London, Hannah Rose, 21, is shopping with her friend, Jordan Mogford, for a trip to the US with Camp America.

Hannah admits she doesn't bother taking clothes back to the store if she doesn't like them after she gets them home. "If it's only £2 there's no point, I'll just shove it to the back of my wardrobe," she says. "The clothes last a couple of months and then break and you have to go and buy more... I bought these shoes for our trip because they'll get ruined, but it doesn't matter."

"It's like a jungle," agrees Jordan, 18. "I don't try anything on, it's just too busy." However, she at least says she will "try it on at home and take it back if I don't like it".

While Primark has become increasingly popular for its prices, many customers know its range of T-shirts, shoes, skirts and jeans are inexpensive largely thanks to the low cost of sourcing them in less-developed countries.

Primark bosses said they were "shocked and saddened" by the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh, after confirming that one of its suppliers occupied the second floor of the eight-storey building. The company has been dogged by rumours that it uses child labour since 2008, when it axed three suppliers in India for passing work to unapproved sub-contractors who used under-age workers. It has also confirmed that it does not use child labour now.

But what effect this has upon shoppers, even those who have been suspicious of the ethics surrounding cheap clothes, is minimal when they are faced with a £5 dress. Primark's parent company said like-for-like sales rose by seven per cent in the 24 weeks to the start of March, a performance it described as "exceptionally strong".

"I've heard a lot of rumours about [Primark using child labour] so I wouldn't be surprised. It is so cheap, they must do," says Hannah, but she still buys the clothes.

"Every shop is the same," says Melanie Pogoda, 28, a tourist from Switzerland. "If you want quality stuff you have to go to a fair-trade shop and they don't sell the things I want to wear."

Traditionally, Primark shoppers buy in bulk, leaving the shop laden with clothes, shoes and accessories. The brand, dubbed "Primani" by its fans, doesn't have a website as it believes its low-cost, high-volume business model wouldn't be an attraction online. But competition on the high street means more shops are driving their costs down by using factories in developing countries to make cheap clothes quickly.

Primark claims it can take as little as six weeks for catwalk styles to appear in shops – and this doesn't just attract teenagers. "It's cheap and there's a lot of variety for young people," says Claire O'Brien, 53. "I think it should be investigated. They were paying [the Bangladeshi workers] their wages but it doesn't necessarily mean Primark were negligent."

Rabih Galach, 35, a banker, says Primark is good value for money. "We have disasters all over the world every day. I'm from Lebanon and I hear about Palestine and Syria every day. I can sympathise, but it won't stop me buying from there."

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003