This was a strange Monday.
I met up with some lovely friends first thing in the morning - didn't bring my camera, it's been so cold and dark, there's not much style on the street. I even thought, as I crossed the street in South Ken/Knightsbridge, and saw Chanel (and thought of Pearl, who unbeknownst to me, was at that very same moment, posting about Primark), that it's kind of surreal, in JUNE, to be seeing next Autumn/Winters' clothing in the window and thinking 'Yeah, I wish I was wearing that jacket now, it looks so WARM.'
It was as if the mannequins looked so sad because they were thinking 'another summer day gone by, and I STILL can't go swimming.'
Street style at the moment seems to be more about staying warm and dry and protected from the elements, so no one seems in the mood to friggin' colour block, or wear our little short shorts or wispy frocks - a wafty maxi in a bright colour would look absolutely ridiculous on the London streets. So minutes after snapping the Chanel window with my phone camera, I saw this girl outside South Ken tube. I hesitated but she was standing in such a cool way (not this shot - I didn't shoot her) - it was kind of like a ballet fifth position, and she looked like she was waiting for someone.
I wish I remembered her name! She was so nice (hopefully she'll get in touch: she's visiting London from Edinburgh, so chances are she hasn't got her laptop with her). I admired her dress and asked if it was vintage and she smiled and said 'no, Primark.'
Which brings me to my rant.
I received a very nice email from someone who I guess works with Primark, letting me know about the recent BBC tribunal clearing them of the child labour charges. This video explains it much better than I ever could, and it's really worth watching (it only takes six minutes):
I've since spent much of my morning looking into the history of Primark, which isn't in the States, but is somehow affiliated with JC Penney (I believe). And maybe it's because the founder - who stepped down a few years ago, but is still on the board - shares my father's name, Arthur - or maybe it's simply because I can't wrap my head around why some person, who was GETTING PAID BY THE BBC to produce a show for Panorama, would go to the lengths he did to fabricate a story to bring down a company. Frankly - and I mean this in the most personal way - I just don't understand anyone going to any lengths to cause another human being, or group of human beings, harm. If you don't want to shop in a shop for whatever reason, don't. If you don't want to be friends with someone, or don't want to sleep with someone, or don't want to work for someone.. don't. But what possible good did this guy see in lying about a brand? Did he see himself like some kind of hero, a Man of the People sticking it to Big Business? I just don't get it.
As someone who tends to try to see any situation - political, or in business - as coming down to human beings, my first thoughts when I realised that this has been going on since 2008 is that that is a lot of legal fees for Primark to have to clear their good name. A lot of time, and sleepless nights. I imagined that somewhere, ultimately, there would be one person who had created this brand - even tho countless people worked hard to continue to make it successful - someone who might be a father (or, a mother) with perhaps children, (in this case, possibly even grandchildren - the founder, who is still on the board, is 76) - and it broke my heart when I read the wikipedia story. This is a very impressive company, who are providing inexpensive clothing and other goods for us all.
Yes, I understand that Chanel is Chanel. Good for Chanel.
And I understand about how it's all about the construction, and the quality of fabrics, but - while I hesitate to speak ill of the dead - I can remember, in 2009, being in Harvey Nicks and seeing one of McQueen's dresses - those kind with the digital prints - and the prints on the seams didn't remotely line up. And I looked at the price tag. And it just didn't seem right, somehow. That dress could have fed a family of five for a year, in most of the world's countries, and they couldn't be bothered lining up the patterns on the seams.
And even if I was in one of the top 50 richest families on the planet (which, incidentally, I am not) I STILL wouldn't dress in top to toe Chanel, or any other designer. I have some friends who are royalty, and some are from the wealthiest families on the planet, some are even famous, (no names), and guess what: they still proudly point out, when asked, that they're wearing something from H&M, or Topshop, or, yes, even Primark. (I remember my ex sister in law, a Brit who lives in NY, having returned from London, showing me her stash of Primark goods - she actually introduced me to them, that day at my brother's farmhouse in upstate NY. I can still remember her eyes bulging wildly as she pointed to a skirt and telling me how ridiculously cheap it was - and another item - and another, until finally she ripped open her blouse and pulled her bra strap out and said 'this bra: four pounds. FOUR POUNDS!!)
And - for what it's worth - it was a fabulous bra, at that.
Whew. I'm done. That felt good ; )
So: what do you think? Truthfully. Was the BBC apology reasonable and just? Was it enough? There wasn't any mention, I noticed, about any slap on the wrist to the producer, or any consequences. (When I went thru my own ElleGate hell last winter, for example, altho I was offered compensation, I never got it - or even a proper apology. And the girl at Elle.es, far as I know, has gone unpunished, and her reward is, in a country that was, according to Hachete Filipachhi's lawyers, 'too poor to pay the compensation fee' - she's still got her job! And, I might add: I have nothing but love for the Elle brand, which has since been sold by HF. I always knew it was about two nasty little women, in an office in Madrid - and would never seek revenge on the company, or any of its hard working employees. And I certainly would never seek to distort the truth.)
You can read more about the Primark story on Primark's site, and tell them how you feel.