There was an article in the Evening Standard last week, praising the delights of Primark. I was reading over someone's shoulder, so can't be certain. But one of the subheads went something along the lines of "so cheap you can wear it once and chuck it".
Now I'm all for affordable clothing (many genuinely can't afford the inflated prices of 'brand' clothes - this isn't some middle class snobbery...I hope!). And, personally, I'm positively allergic to high price 'labels'. But am I alone in thinking that shopping at Primark is like being addicted to some kind of fashion crack. Because no one (really, it's true) needs that many clothes, or to change them that regularly.
It's psychologically damaging, and just serves to reinforce the need, need, need...want, want, want...buy, buy, buy cancer destroying our society from within.
And have you ever stopped to think about the damage being done elsewhere. I don't want to point the finger without knowing the facts. But the clothes can't be that cheap just because they're rubbish quality bought in large quantities. Someone somewhere is bearing the brunt.
And yes, I'm sure it's all perfectly legal. But the law is ripe with shades of grey when it comes to human rights - as Dr Who said the other week, when told that us Brits don't have slaves: who do you think makes your clothes.
And even if the labour practises of Primark (and the other low cost retailers - it's not just them) are above board, even best practise (I wouldn't want to pre-judge!), what about the environment?
Those clothes we wear once or twice and chuck are using up nonrenewable resources at a rapid rate...and putting rubbish back in return. Because most people do still chuck clothes when they are 'out of fashion', or even if they're just board with them, rather than recycling in some form. Where other markets are (if only superficially) trying to be 'sustainable', fashion is careering in the other direction.
It can't last. A change will have to come. And not just in what we wear. Across the board we will have to switch from the suicide path of 'more, more, more' fuelled by cheap disposability.
But the alternative path of sustainability has many components - it's not just about businesses having a socially, morally and environmentally positive perspective. Or us complaining that they don't. We have to change our own lives - we can't have our cake and eat it when it comes to consumerism and 'doing the right thing'.
What was it the Ghandi said - be the change you want to see in the world. Culturally and psychologically, people need to change. We need to discover the joys of contentment; a sense that enough is enough. But that ain't easy, given the the cultural thrust of the last 50 years.
Which is why those of us involved with brands and comms have our part to play in helping change happen. Because, like it or not (and despite all the liberal hand wringing we now take part in), we have been (and remain) a big part of the problem.