Beyoncé’s Ivy Park Sportswear Line Is Apparently Made In A Very Bad Sri Lankan Sweatshop
Some bad but not surprising news for Beyoncé. According to a report from Page Six, the singer’s new sportswear line Ivy Park is made in a Sri Lanka sweatshop with abominable working conditions and very low pay. *Insert lazy Beyoncé pun riffing on sweatshops and her vast amounts of material wealth here*
In a breathless lede, Page Six reports on a facet of the fast fashion business that anyone with common sense would understand, writing that “Multi-millionaire singer Beyoncé reportedly contracts with overseas clothing companies that use sweatshop labor to manufacture her sportswear line.” The article goes on to illuminate just how bad these conditions are. According to British tabloid The Sun, a 22-year-old sewing machine operator reported grueling hours and abysmally-low pay, eking out just $6.17 a day to sew $50 bodysuits and these electric blue three-quarter length running tights which I would gladly wear every day, I’m sorry, I’m a terrible person, I know.
The 22-year-old worker interviewed describes living and working conditions that are in stark contrast to Beyoncé’s lavish lifestyle.
“We don’t have our own kitchen or shower; it’s just a small bedroom,’’ she told the Sun.“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.”
According to the law, the factory that makes Ivy Park isn’t breaking any laws. The conditions are deplorable, yes, but the workers make more than Sri Lanka’s minimum wage. Yes, their minimum wage is very low. Yes, this is bad. Yes, Beyoncé should have thought this through, I guess, and vowed to make her clothing in the United States, free of sweatshop labor and barely-livable wages. This appears to be the tenor of the conversation on Twitter, a place generally well-known for intellectual, reasonable discourse.
When Ivy Park was released, in those heady days where the world was on tenterhooks waiting for a new album, the accompanying video that announced the athleisure line featured Beyoncé working out a lot and espousing at length about how leggings and cropped hoodies and bodysuits are meant to empower women.
This “empowerment” she speaks of is clearly only for the consumers not the producers. Sweatshop labor is a terrible reality of our current economy where consumers clamor for more options for less money. Fast fashion is a scourge, it’s true. But, so is capitalism. And we live in a capitalistic society; this is less a pet theory and more insurmountable fact. Unless everything you’re wearing is couture, plucked from the runway and made to your exact measurements by seamstresses in the bowels of Karl Lagerfeld’s atelier, then you are complicit in the cycle. Beyoncé’s clothing line is still expensive, which is upsetting considering the cost of production. But, she’s a business in many ways, a corporate, faceless entity like Old Navy, H&M and the various other stores where you buy your jersey sundresses and rompers that you’ll wear hard to barbecues and roof parties come summer.
This is how the cookie crumbles. This is the way business works. Taking one woman to task for sweatshop labor and forcing her to stand as an example is more palliative than anything else, a way of making yourself feel better for those $10 leggings you gleefully purchase. Dismantling the sweatshops would mean a dismantling of the way consumer culture works – a much bigger task than simply firing up Twitter and popping off. If sweatshop labor upsets you – as it should! – and you want to actually do something about it, here are a few organizations to get you started.