When a woman in Swansea, Wales went to find the washing instructions for her new Primark dress, she was surprised to find an extra tag sewn in, according to a report by the South Wales Evening Post.
"Forced to work exhausting hours," it reads in hand-stitching.
Rebecca Gallagher bought the dress from Primark for £10, or $17.01 by current exchange, and says the label made her rethink her bargain buys. "You hear all sorts of stories about people working in sweatshops abroad -- it made me feel so guilty that I can never wear that dress again," she told the paper.
This wouldn't be the first instance of forced laborers reaching out to consumers; in 2012, a Chinese prisoner left a note in a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag asking for help and claiming to have been falsely imprisoned. Since the tragedy of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, many organizations have called for more responsibility and transparency in garment production, creating events like Fashion Revolution Day to raise public awareness for these kinds of issues. Primark was among the brands found in the Rana Plaza rubble, and subsequently offered compensation to the families of the victims.
It does, however, seem a bit odd that such a label would be sewn in so prominently and that no one -- including Primark employees -- would notice until a customer purchased the garment and brought it home. Either way, this is not great press for the British retailer as it gears up to open stores stateside.
A Primark spokesperson tells the Evening Post that there have been 'no other incidents of this kind,' adding, "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."
A rep for Primark did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Primark has issued the full statement to Fashionista; in it, the company says that the garment was in stores over a year ago. The statement reads:
“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 Trade Initiative (ETI), and our code is based on the ETI base code.
“Primark is committed to making working conditions safer for those who manufacture its products. It was the first UK retailer to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in order to work collaboratively with other brands and stakeholders in the industry to bring about sustainable long term change in the country.”