Weeks ago, I had barely heard of the mega fast fashion retailer Primark. But the excitement over its first U.S. location (in my hometown of Boston!) got me hyped before I even saw an article of clothing. A quick search informed me that aside from being” fast fashion”, Primark is based out of Dublin, Ireland, and is a chosen hot spot overseas for affordable clothes and accessories. It’s somewhat in the same lane of other popular European-based umbrellas such as ASOS and Missguided, but this brand has been in business since 1969!
A U.S. flagship was announced in 2014, and Primark disclosed that it would be on the east coast. Eventually, they chose the Burnham Building directly across from Macy’s in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. On Summer Street, said building used to be the Filene’s Department Store. A legendary spot in shopping for Boston, it closed its doors in 2006. #90sKidsMemories Primark is the first to fully occupy the space, as what used to be the discount kid sibling, Filene’s Basement, is now also the Roche Brothers grocery store.
It’s pretty cool that Primark chose Boston. New York usually gets first dibs on any business looking for an American flagship or to make a splash in the market of fashion and finance. It’s been awhile since Boston could gloat, in the former category especially, that it had it first!
On September 9, the day before its unveiling to the public, Primark, in collaboration with the women’s lifestyle website Refinery29, held a private launch party to celebrate. After being teased for days, as Primark already accomplished outfitted its location with lots of its inventory hung up, laid-out and mannequins dressed, it was great to see the hyped up brand before the chaos of its excited consumers.
What’ll immediately catch your eye is that the prices are unimpeachably low! $6 shirts. $13 trousers. $14 shirt dresses. Nearby H&M and Marshall’s, and Forever 21 on Newbury Street, are gonna be peeved! On its official opening day to the public on September 10, a costumer was overheard telling a friend: “Let’s be honest. The prices are better than Goodwill.”
At the launch, Bostonians in the know, from press and likewise industries of fashion were there, as well as popular YouTube beauty vlogger Raye Boyce, known to her subscribers as ItsMyRayeRaye. Boyce is actually a Boston native.
The event offered everyone snacks like sliders, and fish and chips, and an open bar that handed out drinks like a glass of good ol’ red or white wine.
Guests were also treated to a performance set by Tinashe, whose profile has grown in music since dropping her debut LP back in January, Aquarius. A talented singer-songwriter-dancer and self-taught producer, she and her two dancers still gave 100% to their smaller than usual crowd. She included in her set a newer song of hers, possibly from her upcoming sophomore album, currently titled Joyride.
After I got over the (to me), surprise performance by Tinashe, I got back to gooling over the merchandise. The prices are what got my eyes big! But I also made note of the material that Primark was offering. Is is the highest quality around? No, definitely not when you consider the prices, but it’s also not the worse either. It doesn’t seem like anything would break in a day. You mostly get what you pay for. It’ll just be wonderfully weird that your next winter coat, if from Primark, could only cost you $35.
Primark has everything from clothes for women and men, kids, accessories and bags, (they were even hair pieces) to home, fitness gear, lip gloss, nail polish and mascara, and shoes. The shoes were the one thing that reminded most of Topshop. Topshop made its mark on the U.S. market when it opened in 2009 and its launch party was celebrity sprinkled, with then major spokesmodel Kate Moss as owner Sir Phillip Green‘s platonic date. And Jennifer Lopez was there too. Topshop (and Topman) prices are higher than Primark’s, but its luxe for those of us that love that Gucci, Louie, Balenciaga and Chanel for less was a hit immediately.
About the shoes however. As adorable as they look on the surface, the material is of even less quality than the clothes. And like the clothes, they run small if you have bigger feet. A women’s size ten in heels may be beyond a tight squeeze. Here’s hoping the boots and flats are more kind.
Another thing Primark has in common with Topshop is that it is a European brand, so the cuts are smaller than most American may be used to. I tried to try on four chiffon-type blouses in a U.S. size 4 and if I attempted to place my arm in the other sleeve, the items might’ve ripped. Damn!
The skirts however run on the roomier side, as I was able to zip up a Aztec/Mexicano art printed pencil skirt in a Medium/8 and I could’ve used a 6. And the pants, lawd, that was an issue. For the Pointe trouser, I grabbed my usual American size 8, but it wouldn’t even get pass my ankles. I had to take a U.S. size ten and it was still an effort. Those trousers reminded me of Topshop’s notoriously (if you worked there) tough to put on “Baxter” style jeans. I think I only bought one of those because I was and still am all about the stretchy “Leighs.”
Lest, their workout clothes are fantastic. Comfortable, breathable and in lots of neutrals and bright pops, if you needed the motivation to start “working on your fitness”, Primark will do the trick. I took home a turquoise sports bra and black, white and gray speckled leggings.
So Primark is definitely a store that prides itself on providing affordable basics. It’s a fun, four floors deep, go-to for fashion on a bargain types who used to depend on fellow European, former cheapskate favorite H&M, before the company swerved to noticeably higher prices for lesser made with heart and personality clothes.
Now open on Boston’s Summer Street, if you’re in Downtown Crossing, be sure to stop by! #Primark #PrimarkUSA #PrimarkBoston #Primania