Primark Customer Finds Label Claiming Poor Labor Conditions Sewn Into Her Dress

The typical labels sewn into your clothing are pretty boring: Washing instructions, fabric composition, messages from factory workers... Okay, maybe that last one is a little less run of the mill. But that's exactly what Primark customer Rebecca Gallagher received in a dress she purchased from the store: a cry for help. "Forced to work exhausting hours," read a hand-sewn label tucked in with usual tags you'd expect to find in store-bought clothing.

Gallagher, who lives in Swansea, Wales, purchased the dress from Primark, a U.K. retailer set to open its first U.S. outpost in 2015, for the equivalent of $17. She found the hidden label when hunting for the washing instructions. The disturbing discovery made Gallagher re-think fast fashion (something more of us should be doing, to be honest). She told the South Wales Evening Post:

To be honest I've never really thought much about how the clothes are made. But this really made me think about how we get our cheap fashion. I dread to think that my summer top may be made by some exhausted person toiling away for hours in some sweatshop abroad.

Gallagher tried to contact Primark to tell them about the label but was put on hold for 15 minutes before the call was disconnected. A spokesperson for Primark has since spoken out to say that no further incidents have occurred and that the company would be grateful if Gallagher returned the dress to them for further investigation.

Primark also released an expanded statement, published by Fashionista and re-printed below:

We find it very strange that this has come to light so recently, given that the dress was on sale more than a year ago, with no other incidents of this kind relating to this dress. We would be grateful if the customer would give us the dress, so we can investigate how the additional label became attached and whether there are issues which need to be looked into.
Primark’s Code of Conduct sets out the core principles that suppliers and factories must follow to ensure products are made in good working conditions, and that the people making them are treated decently and paid a fair wage. We inspect each factory to ensure it is meeting the Code and support it by providing guidance and training when issues are identified. Primark is a member of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), and our code is based on the ETI base code.
Primark is committed to making working conditions safer for those who manufacture its products. It was the first UK retailer to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in order to work collaboratively with other brands and stakeholders in the industry to bring about sustainable long term change in the country.

This is pretty much what you'd expect a company to say, true or not, but I'm glad that Primark isn't just ignoring the incident and hopefully will take measures to avoid working with sweatshops in the future. As for the rest of us, maybe we think before we stock up on camisoles at F21 Red for only $1.80. Prices that low are a cry for help all their own.