Alta Gracia Apparel

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Alta Gracia Apparel
Industry College emblem apparel
Headquarters Alta Gracia, Dominican Republic
Products T-shirts and sweatshirts
Owner Knights Apparel, Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States
Number of employees

Alta Gracia Apparel is a fair trade apparel company located in the Dominican Republic.[1][2][3] It is owned by the leading maker of college-logo clothing, Knights Apparel, a privately held firm that is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina in the United States.[1]


Alta Gracia is located in a former apparel sweatshop,[3] that made baseball caps for Reebok and Nike until 2007. Its owner, BJ+B moved its clothing manufacture operations to Vietnam and Bangladesh where there were lower employment costs. Knights Apparel bought the factory, had it renovated, and installed ergonomic equipment and better lighting for improved working conditions.[1][4] Aside from Alta Gracia, Knights Apparel's clothing is made in countries that do not support a living wage, but are monitored annually for safety conditions.[4]

The Alta Gracia factory opened in 2010[4] and pays its employees a living wage for adequate food and shelter, which is about three and a half times the amount average income of apparel workers in the Dominican Republic. In terms of lifestyle, this can mean the difference between living in a shack and living in a multi-room home with indoor plumbing. The factory employs about 130 unionized people who in 2013 make about $3 per hour, or $500 per month. This compares to the average wage in Bangladesh of $40 to $64 per month, according to a May 2013 survey reported by Reuters.[1][4]

Offering workers a fair wage came as the result of a health crisis by Knight Apparel's CEO Joseph Bozich who wanted to ensure more equitable wages for apparel workers[1] after meeting with college students. He said ""When I heard their passion consistently over the years, it started convincing me that if we made this initiative a reality that could be successful, that consumers would support it". Student activists like the United Students Against Sweatshops and a movement led by James Wilkerson at Duke University have called for fairer working wages and conditions. Alta Gracia Apparel works with the Workers Rights Consortium which monitors factories for fair labor treatment of works in school logo apparel factories.[1]


Alta Gracia makes sweatshirts and T-shirts with college logos[4] which are mainly sold at about 400 college bookstores in the United States and at Barnes and Nobles bookstores.[1] For instance, Alta Gracia's clothing is carried at the bookstores of Duke University, as well as Georgetown University[5] the University of Notre Dame, University of Missouri,[3] and Temple University.[6] the University of Minnesota,[2]

Fair labor market[edit]

Its challenge is to successfully market their apparel that, with the increased wages, is now at the price point of Nike and Adidas clothing. Knight's CEO, Joseph Bozich, stated that the clothing is made of "high-quality fabric, design and printing" and that this is a market for "fair labor" garments. An industry analyst, Andrew Jassin, stated in the New York Times article, "Factory Defies Sweatshop Label, but Can It Thrive?" that “There are consumers who really care and will buy this apparel at a premium price, and then there are those who say they care, but then just want value." He noted that to be successful, the organization would need to skillfully market to buyers interested in "fair trade" practices.[1]

T-shirts made by Alta Gracia are tagged with messages that include an endorsement by the Workers Rights Consortium, pictures of workers, and a message from the workers "Your purchase will change our lives."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Greenhouse, Greenhouse (17 July 2010). "Factory Defies Sweatshop Label, but Can It Thrive?". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Sell more Alta Gracia". Minnesota Daily. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Ukrop, Joey (March 6, 2012). "MUSAS wants MU Bookstore to sell Alta Gracia". The Maneater. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Jackie Northam. "Can This Dominican Factory Pay Good Wages and Make a Profit?". NPR. June 30, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Quint, Bridget (1 December 2011). "Alta Gracia @ Temple University". Net Impact. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

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