Beyoncé Clothing Line Under Fire For Sweatshop Labor Making ‘Empowerment’ Fashion

Beyoncé has come to be regarded as a paragon of female empowerment and feminism lately, particularly with the arrival of her incendiary Lemonade album. Even her athleisure clothing line Ivy Park, in partnership with Topshop, is promoted with strong positive messages for women. But the iconic singer has come under fire after a recent report claiming that workers in Sri Lanka making those clothes are being paid just 63 cents an hour.

A recent report in The Mirror claims that MAS Holdings, the Sri Lankan apparel conglomerate which manufactures Ivy Park for Topshop, is paying its workers an unsustainable wage. Employees are reportedly given the Sri Lankan minimum wage of 13,500 rupees a month (just over $90 U.S.), activists claim the workers require a minimum 43,000 rupees a month to meet base living standards. 

As for empowering women, MAS Holdings reportedly employs 74,000 workers, with upwards of 70% of them women. An unnamed seamstress reportedly said “When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners. They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.”

A Topshop spokeswoman has responded to the allegations in a statement, defending Ivy Park’s “rigorous ethical trading program. 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. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”

Contrast these developments with Beyoncé’s recent interview with Elle, in which she explained that the “essence” of Ivy Park was “to celebrate every woman and the body she’s in while always striving to be better.” Touching on feminism and the purported gender wage gap, she said, “Ask anyone, man or woman, ‘Do you want your daughter to have 75 cents when she deserves $1?’ What do you think the answer would be?”

Great question.