So Sir Philip Green does have some taste then?

Beyonce’s new Topshop collection is reportedly made by Sri Lankan factory workers earning just £4.30 a day.
Seamstresses making Beyonce’s activewear clothing line Ivy Park is made to work more than 60 hours per week, for less than half the average Sri Lankan wage, it has been revealed.
The singer’s 228-piece range has previously been criticised for being overpriced – with a pair of leggings costing as much as £100 – and excluding, as it only available up to a UK size 14.

Beyonce was first congratulated on promoting body positivity with a range of sizes available – from XXS to XL – until it became clear that a size XL was a size 14 (US size 12).

This blog approves of the decision not to make leggings in size 24. Purely on aesthetic grounds you understand.

19 thoughts on “So Sir Philip Green does have some taste then?”

  1. > made to work more than 60 hours per week

    So they’re slaves? If so, that’s a huge story in its own right. If not, nobody is forcing them to work and the article is deliberately misleading.

    > for less than half the average Sri Lankan wage

    What percentage of the average (median or mean?) wage does a seamstress in the UK earn? Two seconds on Google tells me it’s about half the average wage. No story there either.

  2. If they’re earning just £4.30 a day, so what, that’s what they’re earning. If they’re earning more than £4.30 a day but only being *PAID* £4.30 a day, that’s the scandal. Or is this a campaign to pay people more than they earn?

  3. For me the point is, if anyone else’s clothes range employed sweatshop workers, particularly if they were African or African-American, Beyonce would be creating a Superbowl spactacular about it, complete with Black Power salutes.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    I am sure we all support Sri Lankan workers. I am more sure we would all like to see them earn more.

    But how is making sure they all get fired from the best job they can find is going to help them? They will simply have to move to the second best job which is likely to be worse paying.

    What Sri Lanka needs is for lots of boys to studying engineering and other useful subjects so they can introduce a massive amount of industrialisation. Which will raise the wages even for seamstresses and hairdressers and the like. It is a long and slow process. And it is not helped by hash tags.

    I agree about the size thing too.

  5. This is just another ‘Sir Philip Gree is Simon Legree!’ article. We’ll keep seeing these until the media find someone else for the 2 minutes hate.

  6. SMFS,

    Precisely.

    And on the point about “studying engineering”, it’s not so much that people are at that point, but…

    I remember when “sweatshop” stories were about The Phillipines. Notice you never hear that? How it’s Sri Lanka, Pakistan? That’s because The Phillipines has moved to the next level. They’re doing things like web design, bug fixing on software. People don’t trust them to be as good as the people in say, Poland yet, but I have no doubt they will.

  7. Bang on Stigler:

    This is another example of an economy growing through the various stages towards high value activities. The other day, I found a cheap shitty toy car in a box of stuff in the loft. It was about thirty/forty years old, and had Made in Hong Kong” stamped on it’s bottom.

    What was the last thing actually made in Hong Kong? I don;t know, but I can guarantee it was;t a plastic bit of tat, or a pair of Jeans or anything that cost less than £500. In twenty years, we’ll be buying premium phones made in Sri Lanka, perhaps by the people who are stitching t-shirts today.

    It’s neoliberal pedantry to suggest that this is part of a process, though, and not something to be stamped out.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    Stig, Indeed, and add South Korea to the list of countries that have have successfully transitioned through sweatshop to real economic prosperity.

    I’m sure that Paul will be along to remind us, in his own inimitable way, that the US offered favourable trading terms to SK. That would be right and the response is for the EU and other nations to lift restrictions and tariffs to sweatshop nations so that they too can pass quickly through that stage and pass the mantle to another benighted country so that they too may prosper.

  9. Wasn’t that long ago that there was an article about how child labour laws in India had actually pushed down the wages of child labourers

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Japan used to make shonky machine tools (machine tools! Japan!) immediately post-war, to the extent that x “lies like a Japanese micrometer” was a phrase in common parlance when I was cutting my teeth in engineering circles (institutional memory being what it is, the sentiment was invalid at that point). If you find a box of old machine screws made in the UK from 1900 or so, it’s striking how poor the dimensioning is, and it’s not just from being bashed about for a hundred years. We really do get better at making things. Besides, I imagine that ‘seamstress’ as an occupation performed by actual mammals is going the way of chimney sweep or horseshit collector. By the time Sri Lankans are as rich as, say, Romanians, all this stuff will be automated.

  11. Philip Scott Thomas

    BiCR

    I imagine that ‘seamstress’ as an occupation performed by actual mammals is going the way of chimney sweep or horseshit collector.

    Yes, the Sandra Battye’s of the world will probably go the way of chimney sweeps, but I’m pretty sure the Rosemary Palm’s will always be with us. 🙂

  12. Wasn’t that long ago that there was an article about how child labour laws in India had actually pushed down the wages of child labourers

    Err, yes. By me, in Forbes

    It’s always nice when someone remembers.

    The real question is who is buying all of this clothing. I know US retail clothing sales have not yet recovered. Judging from the Yahoo!!!!!!!!!! commentards very few people want to pay high prices for clothing that falls apart after only a couple washes.

  13. My kids buy cheap clothing all the time. It falls apart, they don’t give a shit. They don’t want to wear it more than three or four times anyway. Yes they’re fucking idiots*, by our lights, but it’s wrong to see a Superdry t shirt and an Arran sweater as related.

    *Their money from weekend jobs, not mine.

  14. Poor Sri Lanka. Its literacy rate (96%, IIRC) was once above England’s, even though it had a prime minister endlessly fêted by the UN and other leftists. Then they had a civil war. Now they make t shirts and import stuff from countries which used to have a literacy rate below 50%

  15. Bloke in Costa Rica

    PST: I wouldn’t bank on it. A really top-notch sexbot would put most toms out of work. It would put a fair number of girlfriends and wives out of work, for that matter, especially if it could cook.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in North Dorset – “add South Korea to the list of countries that have have successfully transitioned through sweatshop to real economic prosperity. … the response is for the EU and other nations to lift restrictions and tariffs to sweatshop nations so that they too can pass quickly through that stage and pass the mantle to another benighted country so that they too may prosper.”

    Well yes and no. Countries that have made that transition are clustered into two cultural areas – Northern Europe and East Asia. No one else seems to be able to do it. It may well be that Sri Lanka will be a sh!thole for the indefinite future. It is certainly not as easy as just opening up markets. Other things matter too.

    Never ever under-estimate the ability of Third World people to be Third World people. Of course Rusty calls this racism but look at the BRICS now. How is Brazil turning out? How is South Africa working out? I have been to the former President of Sri Lanka’s home town. Which is a fishing village in the middle of a semi-desert salt plain. A place I would want to get the f**k out of too. It is now a major port. It has a huge airport. It has railway links. Of course it is still a pathetic little fishing village, but boy do those cranes look impressive.

    Tim Newman – “Taiwan is another place that used to make shit toys and now makes laptops.”

    Actually Taiwan mainly designs laptops these days. They make them where everyone else does – just outside Shanghai.

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “Japan used to make shonky machine tools”

    It is a punch line in the Back To The Future movies. In one of them Marty goes back to the Fifties to meet a younger Doc who examines his time machine and says “There’s the problem – this is made in Japan.” Marty has to explain to him that in the future, in the 80s anyway, all the good stuff was made in Japan.

  17. BiCR,

    “I imagine that ‘seamstress’ as an occupation performed by actual mammals is going the way of chimney sweep or horseshit collector.”

    I think most of them are working in the movie industry.

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