The series of new initiatives by Primark include working with the climate action NGO WRAP, through its Textile 2030 agreement to establish an industry-wide durability standard.
Based on this agreement, the two organisations will commission independent research gauging the relationship between price and consumer behaviour and its impact on durability, and scaling up Primark’s free clothing repair workshops following a 12-month pilot.
Introduction of industry-wide ‘durability’ standard
Primark said it wants to set a standard for durability to assure consumers that what they buy will last irrespective of affordability.
As part of this Primark has developed a new enhanced durability wash standard” using a framework based on WRAP’s Clothing Longevity Protocol. Primark explains, “it started with testing denim and, so far, 60% of the products tested have passed this new enhanced standard. Socks and all jersey categories across womenswear, menswear and kidswear are now being pilot tested in line with this new standard.”
This also supports the retailer’s commitment to strengthen the durability of its clothes by 2025.
Understanding consumer behaviour
Primark has partnered with environmental and behaviour change expert Hubbub to understand the factors impacting the longevity of clothes.
As part of the project, Primark has commissioned the School of Design at University of Leeds to carry out independent academic research that tests the physical durability on a range of women’s and men’s clothing of different price points under controlled conditions.
The retailer said it will also work with Hubbub to research consumer attitudes towards clothing for examining “consumer wearing and washing habits” in practice. This it says is to further understand the factors that impact clothing durability.
The findings of both these studies will be shared later this year.
Educating customers on ‘repair culture’
Following the successful pilot in 2022 with 43 repair workshops rolled out to customers and colleagues in UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI), Primark is expanding its free repair workshop programme to more stores across the UK and ROI initially, with additional European markets to follow.
The hands-on sessions, led by designer and fashion lecturer Lorraine Mitchell along with fashion stylist Janina Gruber, cover core basic repair skills – from sewing buttons, zips and mending tears, as well as lessons in customisation – which are increasingly important in a cost-of-living crisis, says Primark.
Primark has created an online customer hub featuring easy-to-follow repair videos, covering everything from basic stitching to sewing on buttons and zips. The tutorials will be available across all its social channels.
Lynne Walker, director of Primark Cares, said: ”We believe passionately that more sustainable fashion should be affordable for all and whatever your budget you should be able to trust that the clothes you are buying meet a certain standard and can go the distance. This has never been more important for our customers.
“That’s why we want to see the introduction of a durability standard across the fashion industry, and we want to understand more about the behaviours and attitudes which impact how we all wear and care for our clothes. We know that many clothes that are discarded may still have plenty of wear left in them and that’s why we want to help people learn new repair skills to be able to sew, fix a button or even customise a piece of clothing and give it a new lease of life.”
These initiatives support Primark’s ambition to become a more circular business in line with its long-term sustainability strategy, Primark Cares.
Keeping up with its commitments, Primark revealed last November that almost half (45%) of its clothing now contains recycled or more sustainable sourced materials. The retailer has committed to transition 100% of its clothes to its Primark Cares label by 2030, while keeping its same great value pricing, a move applauded by industry onlookers.