We're often asked whether the fashions sold at our low prices can really last. We get it. It’s perfectly fair to wonder if a pair of Primark jeans that you can snap up for less than $20 will last as long as a designer pair costing $100.
We always reply by asking whether a garment's price tag is really the most accurate indicator of whether it will last or not. Spoiler alert: it’s not. But don’t take our word for it. We’re working on our own, along with select partners, to prove it.
Primark becomes pioneering signatory to WRAP’s Textiles 2030
When it comes to fashion, durability — how long a product lasts — really matters. It’s not just about getting better value for money by keeping your clothes longer, it’s about improving our impact on the planet so there’s less waste.
Given how important this issue is, it may surprise you that there is no current industry standard for measuring the durability of clothing. We want to help change this. That’s why we are working with a leading sustainability charity, WRAP, by being a “pioneering signatory” to Textiles 2030. This is the UK’s most ambitious voluntary agreement designed to limit the impact of clothing and home textiles on climate change. It’s in line with the Paris Agreement to reduce climate change, as well as the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. The initiative uses a "Target, Measure, Act" approach, where businesses set targets, measure their impact and track progress, both on an individual basis and towards national targets.
We are working closely with WRAP and other retailers to review and update the durability guidelines set forth in their Clothing Longevity Protocol. Our collective aim is to define a new industry standard for 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 clothing — and the fashion industry as a whole — on the environment, which urgently needs an overhaul.
Primark Wearer Trials; Wash and Quality Testing
As part of this initiative, we have already implemented our own durability testing through independent, third-party accredited labs. We look at how long our garments retain their color, whether they’re prone to shrinkage, damaged seams or pilling. We do this in a variety of ways. Across our ranges, we are wash-testing our clothing and carrying out comprehensive quality and claims testing. Outside the lab, we also conduct ad hoc "wearer trials," where people wear our clothes to check their quality and performance — something we hope to increase across our staples.
Primark Clothes: Made to Last
We want to go even further: The longer clothes last, the less waste is generated, which is better for the environment. As part of our new commitment to sustainability, we're turning up the dial on durability. We've started with denim, which is one of our customers’ key wardrobe staples.
We’ve introduced a much more intense testing cycle of 30 washes for a broad sample of men's, women's and children's denim. This level of rigor is recommended by WRAP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Next, we will turn our attention to enhancing testing standards for our other ranges.
What Testing Means for Our Clothes
As we increase testing across broader ranges, we will work with any supplier whose products don’t pass these tougher benchmarks on product durability. We will do this by continuing to work with suppliers to support improvements on products — for example, through the use of better dyes or the creation of stronger fabrics. This process will offer continuous improvements over time, and be carried out simultaneously with the development of WRAP's new Clothing Longevity Protocol.
How to Extend the Life of Your Wardrobe
We want to help you do your bit, too. We can all help extend the lifespan of our clothing, by making sure we properly care for them. This also saves money and reduces your clothing's footprint after purchase.¹
Here are the Top Five Tips for giving your fashions a longer, happier life.
1 When Not to Wash Your Clothes Apart from underwear and socks, very few items of clothing need to be washed after one wear. Try airing out, steaming or spot cleaning worn clothes, instead.
2 Follow Instructions on the Care Label Remember the degrees shown is the MAXIMUM temperature for washing your item. With the exception of underwear, bedding and towels, most clothes can be cleaned at 30 °C (86 °F) or less. Lower wash temperatures use less water and energy.² You can prolong the life of your clothes by washing them inside-out or with similar colors, along with closing zippers and emptying pockets.
3 Avoid Tumble Drying and Ironing Air drying — whether outdoors or inside — is less stressful on clothing and uses a lot less energy. If you smooth and reshape your garments while damp, you can also cut down on ironing.
4 Don’t Overdo It with Detergents and Softeners Fill your washing machine, leaving enough room so water can penetrate the clothing and let the detergent do its work. Although fabric softener is fine, avoid using it with denim, sportswear and towels, because it damages the fabric.
5 Repair, Reuse, Recycle Give old clothes new life by repairing holes and split seams. You can get creative with buttons and embellishments, or by cutting items up and stitching them back together differently. Alternatively, you can recycle them in the donation boxes in our Primark stores.