Beyoncé Responds To Ivy Park Sweatshop Allegations

Beyoncé Responds To Ivy Park Sweatshop Allegations

A closer look at the attacks surrounding the singer's Athleisure line—and its allegedly unfair labor practices

A closer look at the attacks surrounding the singer's Athleisure line—and its allegedly unfair labor practices

Text: Grace Walker

Earlier this week, Beyoncé’s post-Lemonade "empowerment" was called into question when British tabloid The Sun accused the star and partner retailer Topshop of utilizing unfair labor practices with their collaborative sportswear line, Ivy Park.

As always, the singer received extensive publicity from the launch of the clothing line, specifically designed to be inclusive in both style and price-range. However, according to The Sun, affordability has come at the price of Sri Lankan workers. The publication's allegations reportedly come from a “poverty stricken” 22 year-old seamstress struggling to survive in a vicious circle of low wages and poor working conditions.  Her salary is 18,500 rupees ($380) a month, which surpasses the country’s monthly minimum wage of 13,500 rupees ($202). So, economically, the brand isn't breaking any labor rules and has shown no proof of fostering a harsher working environment than any other manufacturer in the area. In fact, she's actually paying her workers nearly double the minimum wage.

In response to the controversial claims, Ivy Park has issued a press release stating it has “a rigorous ethical trading program” in place, and that it “works very closely with suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance.” Ever since the launch, Beyoncé has intended her clothing line to “support and inspire women.” Topshop has kept to a similar story, saying that the collaboration “empowers women through sport.” It is worth noting that separate from these allegations, Topshop’s Sir Philip Green is currently under investigation for the collapse of another of his retail companies, BHS.

So why was the media so quick to judge Beyoncé? Sure, there are alternative measures the singer could have taken to make the production of her line more in tow with its statement of ethos—such as manufacturing the products within the United States instead of complying with labor laws that are not fair to begin with—but wouldn't it be more effective, as critical consumers, to focus our attention on why these labor standards are so low? After all, the pop star didn't write the rules here; she's just playing by them.

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