Products of Change


Thu 16 Mar 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

Primark partners with WRAP to launch industry-wide fashion durability standard

As part of its commitment to give clothes a longer life, Primark has teamed with the NGO WRAP to launch a new durability and repair initiative designed to prolong the life of clothes that it sells. In response to findings that wearing clothes for longer can help reduce the environmental impact of clothing, the series of new initiatives include working alongside WRAP, through its Textile 2030 agreement, to establish an industry-wide durability standard. Primark will be commissioning independent research looking at the relationship between price and consumer behaviour on durability, and scaling up its free clothing repair workshops following a 12-month pilot. Currently, there is no recognised standard for durability across the fashion industry. Primark wants to help change that to ensure consumers can be assured that what they buy will last, no matter how much they can afford to spend. This supports Primark’s commitment to strengthen the durability of its clothes by 2025. To tackle this, Primark is working with WRAP as a signatory to its Textiles 2030 initiative, a plan to bring businesses together to create a uniform standard for durability. Primark has already developed a new enhanced durability wash standard using a framework based on WRAP’s Clothing Longevity Protocol. To begin, Primark tested 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 the new standard. Meanwhile, the retailer also wants to better understand the factors which impact how long clothing lasts. To do this, it is partnering with the environmental and behaviour change experts Hubbub. As part of the project, Primark has commissioned the University of Leeds School of Design 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. Hubbub and Primark will also work on research into consumer attitudes to clothing and examine consumer wearing and washing habits in practice to understand the factors that impact clothing durability. Finally, following the success of its 2022 pilot with 43 repair workshops rolled out to customers and colleagues in the UK and Republic of Ireland, Primark is expanding its free repair workshop programme to more stores across the UK and ROI, with additional European markets to follow. The sessions are led by designer and fashion lecturer, Lorraine Mitchell and fashion stylist Janina Gruber and land in response to a renewed interest from customers in prolonging the life of their clothes. The hands-on sessions cover core basic repair skills – from sewing buttons, zips, and mending tears, to lessons in customisation. 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. This year’s programme will include classes across the UK, ROI, and Northern Ireland including Edinburgh, Belfast, Liffey Valley, and York, as well as an extensive programme of classes across Primark’s London stores during London Repair Week. 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.” Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP, said: “WRAP’s research shows that wearing the clothes we own for longer has a positive impact on the planet. Both the physical and emotional durability of clothing, are therefore really important factors when considering the clothes we buy. “WRAP’s Textiles 2030 initiative, in partnership with The Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour, is currently exploring the complex nature of garment durability and how it is key to creating a more circular fashion industry, a project which Primark has been a key partner in. “WRAP welcomes Primark’s engagement with our work on the development of durability guidelines for clothing and share its mission to help customers love their clothes for longer.”