Now I know that for many this may seem like a slightly bizarre topic to write about because lets face it who doesn't shop in Primark nowadays? But last week I found myself entering this terrifyingly huge establishment for the first time. Don't get me wrong, I've been to Primarks around the country before but nothing like this one; the flagship behemoth on Oxford Street.
It was 11am in the morning and the rest of Oxford Street was as usual on a weekday eerily quiet. Primark however was already abuzz with activity. I am a highstreet snob, and I am ashamed to admit that although most of the people I know shop there, it still gave me the creeps just to think about purchasing an item that wasn't destined to be shredded and used as costume. Everything about Primark scares me, from their fast and loose approach to ethics (which sadly probably isn't my biggest irk) to the sheer volume of clothes thrown about the place while women desperately scramble for the final size 10 inevitably hidden amongst the remaining 18s.
Primark is the epitome of fast fashion, the clothes aren't bad, in fact most are scarily fashionably up to date, they aren't particularly well made but then the highstreet isn't famous for its tailoring; no, it's the crazy disposability of it all that gets to me. When I entered the shop, I felt like I was going in slow motion whilst all the bargain crazed shoppers darted around me stuffing their extendable netted baskets with all they can contain. Stopping for a moment to take all this in under the harsh fluorescent lighting I noticed that the vast majority of shoppers were normal. Now I know this sounds like something slightly insane to notice, but despite the odd chav, nearly everyone was either foreign or a student.
I picked up a blue gingham 1950s style strapless dress with a bubble hem (the last size 10) and whilst deciding whether to try it on I was approached by a teenage girl who wanted to know if I was going to "take that or put it back". I'll give Primark shoppers this, they've got balls. So out of spite more than anything else I decided to join the half hour queue for the fitting rooms, all the while berating myself for being so stubborn. When I finally made it into the changing rooms, and after receiving many strange looks for only having one item I decided that as pretty as the idea had been with the dress it wasn't for me. I told myself that this was because it was badly made, and it was, but the real reason was that I have realised that no matter how OK it is shop there I will never ever be comfortable wearing clothes that are so mass produced, that no matter how much individual style you have you will never quite be able to make it original.
Yes, I shop in Topshop so this probably makes me a hypocrite but I like to think that while some shops enable style others make you become a slave to the fast and cheap way of looking at things and once you fall in its difficult to get out. Nothing keeps, nothing is reusable, nothing will look good in 6 months when you fish it out the bottom of your wardrobe, you can't even give it to a charity shop, so what on earth is the point of it all? Fast fashion for all for next to nothing is a slippery slope into a shopping addiction. I walked out without the regulation brown paper bag and felt as though I'd crossed a bridge, it might be cool and it might be cheap, but spending £100 on ten items is still at the end of the day almost like throwing money away.