A new investigative piece by British tabloid The Sun reveals that the workers manufacturing Beyonce’s new athletic line Ivy Park work up to 60 hours a week and earn $6.17 per day.
The Sun—which is currently releasing a series of articles about British fashion mogul Sir Philip Green (who previously owned British Home Stores and is currently being interrogated by parliament over potentially unsound business practices)—reports that Ivy Park, Beyoncé’s collaboration with Top Shop (owned by Green’s Arcadia Group), is being produced in inhumane conditions at the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka:
Beyonce says she wants her Ivy Park gym gear to support and inspire women — while Topshop claims it “empowers women through sport,” but poverty-stricken seamstresses making some of the clothes in the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka earn just £4.30 a day. It would cost them more than a month’s wages to buy a pair of Beyonce’s £100 leggings.
The workers, mostly young women from poor rural villages, can only afford to live in boarding houses and work more than 60 hours a week to make ends meet. Most are reluctant to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
Campaigners insist the women are being exploited and treated like slaves.
The brand has since responded to The Sun’s allegations, stating Monday that “Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance.”
As for the low wages, Women’s Wear Daily reports that the MAS factory—which also produces apparel for Speedo, Nike, Lululemon, and Patagonia—pays workers more than double the Sri Lankan minimum wage:
The [Sun] story said the mostly female workers earn 4.30 pounds a day, or $6.17, and could never afford to buy a pair of Ivy Park leggings, which can cost 100 pounds, $144.
However, the minimum daily wage in Sri Lanka is 400 rupees, or 1.87 pounds, or $2.68. That means Ivy Park workers are earning more than twice the minimum wage for a day’s work.
Still, some MAS workers find Ivy Park’s message of empowerment disingenuous. “When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners,” a mechanist tells The Sun. “They want the foreigners to think everything is okay.”
Image via Ivy Park/Top Shop.