There is still no Primark Shanghai. Thank God!
I recently had occasion to visit Primark Boston. I had heard horror stories about Primark for years but this was the first time I got to experience it firsthand.
The nearly 8,000 square meter Primark right at Downtown Crossing, which opened in November 2015 was the first US outpost of the Irish disposable fashion emporium, but it has already been joined with locations at mold throughout the East Coast and there will soon be locations in Brooklyn as well as other parts of Boston. Londoners often gush that Primark makes you not really have to think twice about a purchase because the prices are low to the point of being almost comical. It really does cost more to ride the tube, not to mention going to the pub, in London than to buy an item at Primark. Shops like this offer a salve for the egos of people who otherwise have trouble a lot of trouble affording their lives. You can’t afford nice restaurants let alone a proper home in a location you want or – in the case of the US – even health or education, but you can dress in the latest styles and obtain a new possession pretty much whenever you want. There needs to be a Primark Shanghai for the everyday person to be as stylish as a Londoner.
In Boston, I considered trying on an eight dollar sweater – and this was full price, not discounted – but the Bangladeshi slaves and dead rivers made me hold back. The damage to the world that allowed it to exist would be on my mind on the few times I wore it before it pilled, faded or changed shape irrevocably. Are Zara and H&M grateful for the existence of Primark since, in comparison, they look like makers of permanent style? Or does this mean that they have to drop their prices even more? They must fear Primark Shanghai.
Unfortunately, much like Zara and H&M, the designs are good and there are always items you can use. It’s tempting to take a snobbish attitude and claim they are trying to fill some kind of spiritual void with stretchy skinny jeans from Primark – everything is stretch, I guess because that will fit more body types – but I can fully empathize with the Primark customer. Every fit, color and inseam/waist combo can be found for khakis. If you go to a seller of more classic styles, the ankle opening will probably be too big. They have that piece you need to complete that outfit and it probably costs less than $12. Even if you don’t mind wearing secondhand items, it’s a real hassle finding the right style in the right fit and with Primark you’ll never have to waste time and money going to the alterations tailor.
If they didn’t have such a good business model, they wouldn’t be successful and why should people buy quality when is just so much more expensive? Of course these items are also less “necessary” for life than other polluting, ecological questionable things like driving a car or even using a smart phone. The built-in obsolescence of clothing seems to make more sense since clothes get dirty anyway.
Primark Shanghai doesn’t exist yet. It suppose it will some day, though this might be pushing it too far for Chinese consumers accustomed to the notion that Western brands stand for quality. Chinese customers are already well accustomed to finding the exact perfect style in the very worst quality – that’s what taobao is all about. Still, most fast fashion stores have done well in China. It would be interesting to see what the debate is within Primark about up in China. Perhaps they feel there is too much competition in the dirt cheap segment, though a new type of young lower middle-class consumer could change that.
So when can we expect Primark Shanghai? Hopefully never, but probably soon.