beyoncé's ivy park range has been criticized over garment worker wages
Sri Lankan workers are paid just $6.18 a day, around 63 cents an hour, to produce the activewear line, which anti-slavery campaigners say equates to sweatshop conditions.
Image via Ivy Park
Since its release, Beyoncé's Topshop gym range Ivy Park has been a huge hit. Made in partnership with Sir Philip Green, the owner of the Arcadia Group that owns the global chain, the garments almost immediately sold out upon release and have sparked fierce bidding wars on eBay.
But recent investigations have highlighted the troubling production methods behind the line. Despite the artist saying she hopes the 228-piece range will "support and inspire women," Sun on Sunday has reported that the clothes are made by Sri Lankan seamstresses who earn as little as £4.30 ($6.18) a day, or around 44p (63 cents) an hour. While the wage is higher than the Sri Lankan legal minimum, Jakub Sobik from Anti-Slavery International told The Age: "This is a form of sweatshop slavery."
The criticism has echoed the disconnect between the brand's message and the reality of the women making the clothes. When Ivy Park was released Beyoncé said: "My goal with Ivy Park is to push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance." But speaking to Sun on Sunday one of the Sri Lankan workers replied, "When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners."
In response, Ivy Park states: "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." Continuing, "We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements." At the time of writing, the singer was yet to issue a response.
Far from being specific to Ivy Park, poor conditions for garment workers are an issue across much of the fashion supply chain. Slave To Fashion, the new campaign from ethical fashion pioneer Safia Minney, reports that "71% of companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage in their supply chains," noting that it is "complex, hidden and challenging to address." To support the project, which asks "What does modern slavery look like in fashion? And what can we do to eradicate it?" head over to the Slave To Fashion Kickstarter page.
Text Wendy Syfret
Image via Ivy Park