Beyonce's much-hyped surprise collaboration with British clothing giant Topshop made headlines around the world when it launched in April this year. Topshop's website crashed as people rushed to purchase premium athleisure (prices start at $14 for sweatbands, and go up to $265 for a full length color block body.) An exclusive cover story with Elle emphasized how the clothing line was "a way to push a feel-good, woman-power ethos, to de-emphasize perfectionism, to value strength over beauty, and to inspire."
The backlash was inevitable. British tabloid newspaper the Sun on Sunday ran an expose describing the Sri Lankan garment workers making the range as "sweatshop 'slaves' earning just 44p (64 cents) an hour making 'empowering' Beyoncé clobber." Reporters visited "poverty-stricken seamstresses" at the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka, which produces the clothes.
One sewing machine operator said that she was unable to survive on her basic wage of 18,500 rupees a month ($126). The newspaper claimed on average seamstresses earn £4.30 a day ($6.23), although acknowledging that workers at the factory were still being paid above the legal minimum wage of 13,500 rupees a month.