A woman in Wales was greeted with a disturbing surprise when she allegedly found a secret message stitched as an extra tag into her brand new dress. While looking for laundry instructions, shopper Rebecca Gallagher found, instead, a label that said, “Forced to work exhausting hours.”
The dress, which was £10 or about $15, was from the European retail store Primark made popular by its extremely low priced, mass-produced, trendy items.
Previously, Primark admitted to producing some of their apparel in the Bangladesh Rana Plaza factory that collapsed in 2013 killing over 1,000 workers. The factory was built illegally “with permits obtained through political influence,” reported the New York Times. Its collapse was preventable—the day before the disaster, an engineer cautioned that the building was unsafe and should be closed.
New York Magazine’s fashion blog The Cut said Primark has since become a member of the Ethical Trade Initiative.
Primark officials have spoken out about the incident, telling British Vogue that they would like to be provided the extra label to look into the working condition claims.
“We find it very strange,” a brand spokesperson said to British Vogue, “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.”
According to the spokesperson, Primark was “the first UK retailer to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh….”
Bangladesh is the second-largest clothes exporter behind China. The country’s average workweek is 48-hours long not including the standard 12 hours overtime with a minimum wage of about $66 per month.
UPDATE: A second customer has come forward saying she, too, found an extra tag allegedly sewn into a Primark top she purchased in 2013. This tag read, '"DEGRADING" SWEATSHOP CONDITIONS.'
The woman, named Rebecca Jones, said she purchased the shirt from a Primark in Swansea, Wales' second largest city.
Primark is investigating the labels.