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. 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.
Alta Gracia is located in a former apparel sweatshop, 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. 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.
The Alta Gracia factory opened in 2010 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.
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 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.
Alta Gracia makes sweatshirts and T-shirts with college logos which are mainly sold at about 400 college bookstores in the United States and at Barnes and Nobles bookstores. For instance, Alta Gracia's clothing is carried at the bookstores of Duke University, as well as Georgetown University the University of Notre Dame, University of Missouri, and Temple University. the University of Minnesota,
Fair labor market
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.
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."
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- "Sell more Alta Gracia". Minnesota Daily. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Ukrop, Joey (March 6, 2012). "MUSAS wants MU Bookstore to sell Alta Gracia". The Maneater. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Jackie Northam. "Can This Dominican Factory Pay Good Wages and Make a Profit?". NPR. June 30, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
- Quint, Bridget (1 December 2011). "Alta Gracia @ Temple University". Net Impact. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Alta Gracia: Union-Made, Living Wage United Students Against Sweatshops.
- William T. Armaline; Davita Silfen Glasberg; Bandana Purkayastha. Human Rights in Our Own Backyard: Injustice and Resistance in the United States. University of Pennsylvania Press; 14 March 2013. ISBN 0-8122-2257-1. p. 20.
- Peter Dreir. Alta Gracia: Showing the World What is Possible. Fair World Project. Fall 2012.
- Peter Dreir. "Is the Perfect Factory Possible?". The Nation. October 19, 2011.
- Shae Garwood; Sky Croeser; Christalla Yakinthou. Lessons for Social Change in the Global Economy: Voices from the Field. Lexington Books; 16 December 2013. ISBN 978-0-7391-8776-0. p. 13–15, 24–28, 175.
- Susan Jackson; Randall Schuler; Steve Werner. Managing Human Resources. Cengage Learning; 16 June 2011. ISBN 1-111-58022-7. Can Knights Apparel Satisfy all of its Stakeholders and Survive?. p. 32–33.
- John M. Klien. Alta Gracia: Branding Decent Work Conditions: Will College Loyalty Embrace “Living Wage” Sweatshirts? Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Georgetown University. August 30, 2010
- Gloria Lloyd. "Alta Gracia model shown as 'viable'". Duke Chronicle. Duke University. February 8, 2012.
- Scott Nova; John M. Kline. Workers' Rights and Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains: Is a Social Label the Answer?. Routledge; 26 November 2013. ISBN 978-1-135-01289-2. Social Labeling and Supply Chain Reform: The Designated Supplier Program and the Alta Gracia Label. p. 262–281.
- Steve Werner; Randall S. Schuler; Susan E. Jackson. Human Resource Management. South-Western Cengage Learning; 2012. ISBN 978-1-111-82232-3. p. 417.
- Tiffany Westrom. "Students Against Sweatshops appeals for Alta Gracia apparel." Iowa State Daily (online edition). March 8, 2012.