UPDATE: June 27 -- Following the discovery of a strange label on a second garment from the same store, Primark has concluded its investigation and determined the tag was likely a "hoax carried out in the UK.”
According to a press release sent to The Huffington Post, Primark believes the labels are from the same source -- something it says would be unlikely, given the two garments, a dress and a top, were made in different factories on different continents.
When Rebecca Gallagher purchased a new floral-print dress, she says she was shocked to discover a cry for help on the garment’s tag.
“Forced to work exhausting hours,” the hand-stitched label in the dress reportedly read. Gallagher told the South Wales Evening Post that she purchased the dress at a Primark store in Wales. It's unclear where the message originated. In a statement on its website, the European clothing retailer notes the dress has not been available for sale since 2013.
The Post reports that Gallagher, 25, refuses to wear the dress, and is convinced the message is a "cry for help."
“To be honest I’ve never really thought much about how the clothes are made, but this really made me think about how we get our cheap fashion,” she told the outlet. “I dread to think that my summer top may be made by some exhausted person toiling away for hours in some sweatshop abroad.”
On Monday, Primark emailed The Huffington Post the following statement:
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, with no other incidents of this kind relating to this dress. 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.
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. We inspect each factory to ensure it is meeting the Code and support it by providing guidance and training when issues are identified. Primark is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and our code is based on the ETI base code.
Earlier this year Primark’s overseas factories made headlines when a building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 garment workers, some of whom made clothes for Primark. The company agreed to pay a total of $12 million in compensation to the workers and their families, according to The Guardian.