Barnes and Noble, owner of our campus bookstore, has decided to add a new line of clothing to the store. Alta Gracia, a sector of Knights apparel, will run our school logo on t-shirts for $17.98 and on hoodies for $34.98. Sounds just like any other company that sells us clothes, right? However, Alta Gracia is different.
“We could have given the community a check for $25,000 or $50,000 a year and felt good about that,” says Donnie Hodge, President of Knights Apparel, “But we wanted to make this a sustainable thing.” Alta Gracia, which supplies over 350 school bookstores with clothing, pays their workers enough to live in the world today. According to the company website, “We decided to create the Alta Gracia brand and pay our workers three times more than we were required to – a ‘living wage’ – so that they can provide their families with adequate food, clean water, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.”
Having the privilege to see the clothes before they go out on the shelves, it is apparent that the quality of the product is very high. The cotton fabric is even softer than the traditional brands such as Jansport or Champion. The book store will still sell these main brands, but as bookstore manager Ed Showers says, “[It is] alternative merchandise for people who want to help under-privileged people.”
Looking on the brand’s website you can see the contribution that this company has made for its workers in the Dominican Republic. All 120 workers from the factory have adequate healthcare and education. “We invited the Workers’ Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights’ organization, to make sure that we continue to uphold the high standards that we’ve set for ourselves,” writes Hodge on the websites blog. “We’ve done all this without compromising on the quality of our college t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies, and it’s not more expensive than other premium brands.”
Like Showers says, “Any time we can help someone out in this world, it is a good thing.” Alta Gracia promises healthy and safe working conditions, a decent salary, and quality health care for their employees while providing great quality t-shirts and sweatshirts to campuses across the country. You can support the work done by Alta Gracia by spreading the word, finding them on Facebook and Twitter, or just buying Alta Gracia clothing. For more information, visit AltaGraciaApparel.com.