A question we often get asked about our clothes is whether fashion sold at our low prices can really last. It’s reasonable to wonder if a pair of Primark jeans that cost £20 will last as long as a pair from another brand that cost closer to £100.
What we always ask back is whether a garment’s price tag is really the most accurate measure of whether or not it will last? Spoiler alert, it’s not. But don’t take our word for it. We’re working in collaboration with industry partners to help prove it.
Primark Becomes Pioneering Signatory to WRAP’s Textiles 2030
When it comes to fashion, durability – how long a product can last for - really matters. As well as getting better value for money by keeping your clothes in use for longer, we’re also creating less waste and therefore reducing the impact your wardrobe has on the planet.
Given how important it is, it may surprise you then that there is no current industry standard for measuring the durability of clothes. We want to help change this. That’s why we are working with WRAP, a leading sustainability charity, as a “pioneering signatory” to Textiles 2030. This is the UK’s most ambitious voluntary agreement designed to limit the impact clothes and home textiles have on climate change. It’s all in line with the Paris Agreement to contain climate change and the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. The initiative will use a ‘Target – Measure – Act’ approach, where businesses set targets, measure their impact and track progress on an individual basis and towards national targets.
Through this, we are collaborating with WRAP and other retailers to review the durability guidelines in their Clothing Longevity Protocol. We’ve already started these conversations through WRAP’s durability and circularity working groups and our collective aim is to define new industry guidelines for up to five key product categories by the end of 2022, with more to follow. The Protocol was created in 2013 and is designed to reduce the impact of clothes - and the fashion industry as a whole - on the environment by increasing their durability to extend the lifetime of clothing.
Primark Wash and Quality Testing
So while we are working towards this, we are already doing our own durability testing through independent third-party accredited labs. We look at how long our garments retain their colour, whether they’re prone to shrinkage, damaged seams or bobbles (pilling). We do this in a few different ways. We are already wash-testing clothes across all our ranges and carry out comprehensive chemical, safety, claims and quality testing. Outside of the lab, we also conduct informal “wearer trials”, where people wear our clothes to check their quality and performance, something we are hoping to increase more and more across our ranges.
Primark Clothes Made to Last
But we want to go further: The longer clothes last, the less waste there is and the better for the environment. As part of our new sustainability commitments, we’re turning up the durability dial. We have started with denim, which is one of our customers’ key wardrobe essentials.
We’ve started much more intense testing of a selection of our denim ranges across men’s, women’s and childrenswear to a much higher test of 30 washes. This benchmark is currently recommended by WRAP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Next, we’ll be turning our attention to putting other ranges through more enhanced testing.
What Does this Testing Mean for our Clothes
As we increase our testing activity across our ranges – we will continue to work closely with suppliers and support them to ensure their products are able to meet our tougher benchmarks. This might mean helping them make product improvements, such as the better use of dyes or adjustments to fabrics to strengthen them. It will be a process of continuous improvement over time and will be done hand in hand with the development of the new WRAP Clothing Longevity Protocol.
How to Extend Your Wardrobe’s Life
We want to help you do your bit too. We all can help to extend the lifespan of our clothes and reduce the impact on the environment if we all make sure we look after our clothes in the right way. It also saves money by reducing the energy you are using to wash and dry your clothes while also reducing your clothes’ environmental footprint after you’ve bought them.
Here are five top tips for giving your fashion a long and happy life.
- Alternatives to Washing Your Clothes
Apart from underwear and socks, very little clothing needs washing after one wear. Try airing worn clothes, steaming or spot cleaning them instead.
- Follow Instructions on the Care Label
Remember the temperature shown is the MAXIMUM your item can be washed at. With the exception of underwear, bedding and towels, most clothes can be cleaned at 30C or less. Lower wash temperatures use less water and energy. Plus washing inside out, washing with similar colours, closing zips and emptying pockets can all help to prolong the life of your clothes.
- Avoid Tumble Drying and Ironing
Air drying – whether outdoors or inside - is less stressful for clothes and uses way less energy. If you reshape them while they’re damp you can also cut down on ironing.
- Don’t Overdo it with Detergent or Softener
Fill your washing machine but leave enough room for the water to penetrate the clothes and let the detergent do its work.
- Repair, Reuse and Recycle
Give old clothes a new life by repairing holes and seam tears, get creative with buttons and embellishments or cut items up and stitch back together differently. Alternatively, in our UK Primark stores, you can also recycle them in the donation boxes.