Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ivanka Trump uses only the finest, most downtrodden sweatshop labor to make her clothes

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty

The Trumps are used to dealing in the best. The finest unethical business practices, the most impressive thefts from charities to fuel their own paychecks, and the grandest traditions of screwing over the poor souls unlucky enough to work with them. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Ivanka Trump is proudly following in her father’s footsteps, by quietly having the clothes for her fashion line made by workers in conditions so bad, even China thinks they’re exploitative. In other words, “sweatshop labor” is apparently Indonesian for, “I boldly disagree with my dad.

A new report in The Guardian claims the workers currently tasked with making her clothes are toiling in subpar conditions, being paid a pittance, and regularly exploited with unpaid overtime and other tactics that can’t possibly surprise anyone, but should still depress them. Salaries paid to the workers at the factory in Subang, Indonesia are below the minimum wage in China, which is really saying something. (One woman, whose children are forced to live with their grandmother because she can’t afford for them to live at home with her, makes approximately $173 a month, and burst out laughing when told about Ivanka’s new book instructing women on the work-life balance.)


The employees offer up tales of management that punches them out at 4 p.m. then insists they keep working, to avoid paying overtime wages. The factory fire people right before Ramadan in order to keep from having to pay the “religious holiday bonus,” only to rehire them a month later. And while the factory does have some unionized jobs (which guarantee maternity leave, health insurance, and a monthly bonus if they “don’t take a day off for menstruation”), those account for less than 10 percent of the total workforce. Most of them report verbal abuse, like being called “animals, moron and monkey.” Still, it’s emphasized they are not “egregiously abused,” because that’s the bar we’re setting in the age of Trump. “Here, at least there is air conditioning,” one employee says, winning this week’s “Deeply Dispiriting Statement Of Positivity” award.

Ironically, Indonesia was one of the countries singled out by then-candidate Trump last year for having an unfavorable trade balance with the United States. While the First Daughter officially stepped away from running the company in the wake of her father’s electoral victory-slash-fiasco, everything it makes still has her name on it. The Ivanka Trump brand’s PR team didn’t respond to the story, which is understandable, since they’re all probably frantically sewing different labels onto the clothes in hopes of selling a few more items from the tanking fashion line.

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