ESC

Beyoncé’s Clothing Line Supposedly Uses Sweatshop Workers

Hahahahahaha hypocrisy is in the air, folks. While Beyoncé might be virtually untouchable for the duration of her FORMATION World Tour and saying nay about anything Beyonce might as well be an episode of Naked And Afraid with the siege capabilities of the BeyHive, I’m going to go out on a limb here. You’ve all heard about Ivy Park right? You all rushed to Nordstrom’s website in the middle of the night the moment it dropped right? You all thought hmmmm if I’m not going to get out of sweatpants 75% of the time, I might as well do it in a brand that makes other people look at me with superiority, right? And like me, you’re all looking at the pile of Ivy Park athletic wear now on your floor and wondering what price it came at. Sure you paid $400 for the lump, but what price did it actually come? Who had to deal with blistered fingers and sticky skin? Who had to stand for hours a day in poor conditions only to take home $200 at the end of the MONTH? Just so that I might able to feel a little bit better about choosing comfortable clothing. Who had to sacrifice for my privilege?

The brand, who has taken upon itself to further commoditize feminism, claims that its entire purpose is ‘to support and inspire women’ but an unnamed worker from Ivy Park’s Sri Lankan manufacturer wants to remind us that feminism is still very much a movement that caters to white or otherwise privileged women. That unnamed worker has come forward saying:

When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners. They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.

Well it isn’t. Jakub Sobik, an Anti-Slavery campaigner describes the conditions as unduly exploitative:

With what is being described here, this is a form of sweat shop slavery. Companies like Topshop [Ivy Park’s distributor] have a duty to find out if these things are happening, and it has long been shown that ethical inspections by these companies are failing.

But to be honest, as upsetting as all of this sounds on the surface, we’re a shallow people. We’re a nation of consumers looking to consume as much as possible for as little money as possible. As long as it’s not in our backyard, as long as we aren’t forced to see it from our living rooms, no one cares. And the whole situation is made stickier when it’s realized that the factory isn’t actually breaking any Sri Lankan laws. In a country where the legal minimum wage is 13,500 rupees a month, ~$201.68 USDthe people are considered fairly paid. But workers say that that wage should be closer to 43,000 rupees which is still only ~$648.23 a month. Yet still Topshop spokespeople are boasting:

Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading programme. We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance.

In other words, we’ll operate at the bare minimum of what might be expected for human decency.

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