Beyoncé’s Ivy Park athletic wear line seeks to empower women through exercise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to empower the laborers who put together the clothes in sweatshops owned by Ivy Park’s producers, MAS Holdings. (Ivy Park is a subsidiary of Top Shop.)
The Sun reports that the clothes are made in a Sri Lankan sweatshop, where workers earn around $6 a day. A day. Most of the Ivy Park laborers are women who work roughly 60 hours a week to feed their families and can still barely afford to make ends meet.
Workers live in a boarding house with other employees. One worker explained, “We don’t have our own kitchen or shower, it’s just a small bedroom. We have to share the shower block with the men so there isn’t much privacy. It is shocking and many of the women are very scared. We don’t have much spare money and what we do have we send back to our family.” She shares a 10×10 foot space with her older sister, who added, “We had to come and work here because our father could not afford to feed us and there are no jobs there. We have no choice. I have worked here for three years now and it was very difficult at the beginning but I am used to it now.”
Another worker says, “We don’t get to go home much because we work all the time. They say if you work you can go up, up, up, but that’s just office workers. For us it stays the same always.” The Sun also notes that the boarding house has a strict 10:30PM curfew, after which the property goes on lockdown.
Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International, says, “This is a form of sweat shop 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.”
Compare that to the $15 minimum wage we’re fighting for here, and that’s particularly horrifying.
A Topshop spokeswoman says, “Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”
A statement by Ivy Park said: “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. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”
Still, a factory worker isn’t convinced about the ethics behind Ivy Park. “When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners,” the employee vented. “They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.”
On top of being awful in general, this is particularly infuriating because it almost makes LuLu Lemon look good.