Photo: Ray Tang/REX USA.
One of these clothing dicta is not like the others: Wash with similar colors, reshape while damp, do not tumble dry, and "forced to work exhausting hours." But, Rebecca Gallagher of Gowerton, Wales, found the last option hand-stitched inside of a £10 ($17) dress she purchased from U.K. and continental European clothing retailer Primark. "It was…sewn in with the other normal labels," Gallagher explained to the South Wales Evening Post, and noted, "I would dread to think that this might involve child labour and people's terrible working conditions." She says she called Primark and was placed on hold for 15 minutes before being disconnected.
You might recall that Primark is a big-name signatory to the Bangladesh Accord. In fact, it was "the first U.K. retailer to sign," according to its Ethical Trading site, which highlights the company's post-Rana Plaza contributions, like "emergency food parcels to over 1265 households for five weeks" and "the equivalent of nine months' salary to 3639 workers and their families – not just the 580 that worked in the factory that produced garments for Primark." That said, according to online B2B marketplace EC21.com, the store also counts factories in China, India, and the U.K. among its suppliers (along with Bangladesh).
For now, this dress appears to be a one-off. "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," a Primark spokesman told the South Wales paper. The company sent an expanded statement to Vogue U.K. reading, in part, "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…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." Primark added that it inspects each factory, and furnishes guidance and training when issues arise.