On April 14 Beyoncé launched her athleisure line Ivy Park in partnership with Topshop. The clothing label's message of female empowerment may be undermined by a recent report in The Mirror, which claims that workers in Sri Lanka making the clothes are being paid a mere 44p (63 cents) an hour.
MAS Holdings, the Sri Lankan apparel industry conglomerate that manufactures Ivy Park for Topshop, has been accused of paying its workers an unsustainable wage. While employees are given the Sri Lankan minimum wage of 13,500 rupees a month (about 92 dollars), activists believe the workers require 43,000 rupees a month. (As WWD ponts out, "workers are earning more than twice the minimum wage for a day’s work.")
MAS Holdings employs 74,000 workers and 70% of them are 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."
In response to the accusations, A Topshop spokeswoman described Ivy Park's 'rigorous ethical trading programme" to The Sun on Sunday. "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."
In a recent interview with Elle, her first in years, Beyoncé described the "essence" of Ivy Park was "to celebrate every woman and the body she's in while always striving to be better." She also discussed feminism and pay equity in the United States. "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?”
A rep for Beyoncé did not immediately return a request for comment.