Beyoncé’s new Ivy Park collection is made in sweatshop conditions by laborers, who earn as little as $6.17 a day (which is technically double the Sri Lankan minimum wage), according to sources, including The Telegraph. The mega-star and so-called feminist’s collection hit shelves last month and allegedly aims to “support and inspire women." Well, as of this weekend, it is already being plagued with controversy as the garments are reportedly being manufactured in Sri Lankan factories by grossly underpaid seamstresses working in conditions being likened to “sweatshop slavery.”
On Sunday, a 22-year-old seamstress, one of the women tasked with making the Ivy Park collection for MAS Holdings, a Sri Lanka-based garment and accessories export giant, told UK's The Sun, that she earned 18,500 rupees (a mere $125 a month), about half the Sri Lankan average wage. She told the publication that she has worked over nine hour daily shifts, five days a week, plus overtime.
The workers, mostly young women from poor rural villages, can only afford to live in boarding houses, which are often provided (at a cost) by the factory owners, and work more than 60 hours a week to make ends meet. The worker who spoke out about the conditions associated with the manufacturing of the Ivy Park line is a farmer’s daughter from a remote village 200 miles away from the Katunayake-based factory. She shares a 10-foot by 10-foot room with her 19-year-old sister. “All we do is work, sleep, work, sleep,’’ she told The Sun anonymously for fear of being fired or worse.
MAS employs 74,000 garments workers in 48 factories across Asia, and has been linked to sweatshop allegations several times in the past.
As for Beyoncé, who boasts a net worth of approximately $450 million, she has a bit of a fast fashion history herself, after teaming up with notorious fast fashion giant, H&M, for a collection in 2013. Much like last time, she has been promoting the collection (and its $25 tees) and stars as the face of its campaign, saying recently: “True beauty is in the health of our minds, hearts and bodies. I know that when I feel physically strong, I am mentally strong and I wanted to create a brand that made other women feel the same way.” She stands to make $10 million this year alone in connection with the Ivy Park collection.
Speaking of the recent revelations, Jakub Sobik of UK-based charity organization, Anti-Slavery International, said: “These conditions amount to a form of sweatshop slavery. There are a number of elements here that tick the boxes in terms of slavery, the low pay, restriction of women’s movement at night and locking them in.”
As we have told you in the past, for a celebrity with as immense influence as Beyoncé to romanticize fast fashion is simply unacceptable. Not only is she ratifying fast fashion on its face, she is aligning herself with the often-inhumane treatment of garment workers (whether it be in the form of unsafe workspaces, physical and/or sexual abuse on the job, failure to provide adequate compensation or compensation at all in some circumstances, etc. – all of which are common occurrences relating to fast fashion manufacturing) or the associated environmental devastation that comes hand in hand with such toxic and disposable fashion. All the while, "Queen Bey" has aligned herself with (and capitalized on) the feminist movement. Hypocritical much?
Note: Neither Topshop, nor Beyonce's camp have actually denied the allegations. However, Beyonce's team has released a statement saying: “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.”