Ivanka Trump's factory workers: 'We are making you beautiful but we are starving'

Ivanka Trump.
(Image credit: HEIDI LEVINE/AFP/Getty Images)

A concerning new exposé reveals Ivanka Trump to be a working woman's advocate who relies on underpaid laborers in unsafe factories abroad to cheaply produce her clothing line. The Washington Post report builds on previous stories that have cited the Trump brand's use of cheap labor, noting that her company runs against industry trends as many other fashion labels are increasingly involved in improving workers' living and working conditions.

"The mission of this brand has always been to inspire and empower women to create the lives they want to live and give them tools to do that. We're looking to ensure that we can sort of live this mission from top to bottom with our licensees, with our supply chain," Ivanka Trump brand president Abigail Klem said. However, Klem added that manufacturing goods in the U.S. "at a large scale is currently not possible."

Overseas, Ivanka Trump's suppliers make barely enough to live. "We are the ultra-poor,” Bangladeshi labor organizer and former child worker Kalpona Akter told the Post. "We are making you beautiful, but we are starving."

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In China, where three activists investigating factories making [Ivanka Trump's] line were recently arrested, assembly-line workers produce Ivanka Trump woven blouses, shoes, and handbags. Laborers in Indonesia stitch together her dresses and knit tops. Suit jackets are assembled in Vietnam, cotton tops in India, and denim pants in Bangladesh — a country with a huge apparel industry where garment workers typically earn a minimum wage of about $70 a month and where some have recently faced a harsh crackdown from factory owners after seeking higher pay.And in Ethi­o­pia, where manufacturers have boasted of paying workers a fifth of what they earn in Chinese factories, workers made thousands of pounds of Ivanka Trump-brand shoes in 2013, shipping data show. [The Washington Post]

Ivanka Trump is "concerned" about the reports, her attorney said in a statement, and Trump "expects that the company will respond appropriately." Read the full report at The Washington Post.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.