LONDON — Ivy Park, the new activewear brand and 50-50 joint venture between Beyoncé Knowles and Sir Philip Green, has robustly defended itself against allegations by a British tabloid that its Sri Lanka factory is a sweatshop.
On Monday, the brand said in a statement: “Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance.”
The brand added that it expects its suppliers to meet its code of conduct “and we support them in achieving these requirements.”
The statement came in response to a front-page story in The Sun on Sunday tabloid — never one to shun a sensational headline. The paper accused the brand of relying on “poverty-stricken seamstresses” at the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka to make some of the Ivy Park clothes.
The story said the mostly female workers earn 4.30 pounds a day, or $6.17, and could never afford to buy a pair of Ivy Park leggings, which can cost 100 pounds, or $144.
But the minimum daily wage in Sri Lanka is 400 rupees, or $2.68. That means Ivy Park workers are earning more than twice the minimum wage for a day’s work.
Ivy Park landed in stores and online last month, accompanied by powerful motivational messaging from the singer. It is currently stocked at 12 retailers across 50 countries worldwide including Topshop, topshop.com, Zalando, Net-a-porter.com, Selfridges and Hudson’s Bay.
The pieces are meant to fit like a second skin, with built-in support and robust wicking fabrics. The collection features three legging shapes designed to enhance a range of body types. They are made from a sweat wicking, nonpilling, double-faced polyamide elastane.
Prices range from 8 pounds, or $11, for a headband to 160 pounds, or $230, for a full-length body suit.
According to the MAS web site, the $1.6 billion conglomerate is a lingerie manufacturing expert with design-to-delivery services and 48 manufacturing facilities across 15 countries.
The company has strategic partnerships with names including Speedo International U.K.; Triumph International Overseas Ltd., U.K.; and Ultimo Brands International Ltd., U.K.
It currently works, or has worked with, brands such as Lululemon Athletica, Nike and Patagonia.
According to an industry source, the MAS facilities were fully vetted by members of the Ivy Park team before production began, and that all the factories that make Ivy Park were “painstakingly” chosen. Workers are paid above minimum wage in countries where the clothes are made, the source said.
MAS said on its site it has been profiled as a Global Best Practice in Sustainability company.
The Sun on Sunday story comes amid a series of investigations into BHS, one of Green’s former businesses that fell into administration last month with a large pension deficit. A string of parliamentary and government investigations have been opened, looking into what went wrong with the sale and the pension fund.
Green sold the retailer last year for a nominal one pound, or $1.50, to a business consortium, and remains one of BHS’s biggest creditors. He has defended himself against allegations of business impropriety, and will answer questions from a joint parliamentary committee next month.