The university bookstore showed its support for ethical business practices by beginning to offer products from a new clothing line committed to a humanitarian effort, the general manager of the university bookstore said.
University bookstore general manager Lisa Lewis said that the bookstore is one of the first bookstores nationwide to carry the Alta Gracia line. Alta Gracia is a new brand whose parent company refuses to treat its workers like those in the sweatshops but instead pays them adequately so they can better provide for their families, according to an Alta Gracia press release.
Lewis said that students already welcomed the product.
“I would be more likely to buy something from the Alta Gracia line because I know that I’m supporting those families,” freshman ballet major Melissa Loeffelholz said.
Alta Gracia pays its workers in the factory at Villa Altagraica, Dominican Republic, at close to three dollars an hour. This wage is more than three times the required minimum wage of 80 cents an hour, according to a quote by the Workers Rights Consortium in a press release sent by Alta Gracia.
Donnie Hodge, president and chief operations officer of Knights Apparel, the parent company of Alta Gracia, said in the release, “This is more than a new brand, it’s a commitment to our workers, their families and the community of Altagracia.”
According to the release, the increase in wages allowed workers to pay for more than just their basic necessities, such as food and health care. The workers are able to send their children to school, pay off the debts and possibly help fund their own education.
“By paying a living wage and respecting the right to organize, Alta Gracia is making a huge difference in the lives of the workers at its factory. Alta Gracia is head and shoulders above the rest of the apparel industry,” Theresa Haas, director of communications for the WRC, said in the release.
The idea started when the chief executive officer of Knights Apparel Joseph Bozich was faced with problems at one of his 30 overseas factories. He came up with the idea to open a model factory, according to the release.
In the release, Bozich said, “Our vision is finally a reality. We believe doing good can translate into good business.”
Knights Apparel is the largest supplier of college-logo apparel in the U.S., according to the release.
“I am proud and happy to sew Alta Gracia clothes,” Elba Nuris, an Alta Gracia worker, said in the press release. “Alta Gracia clothes are made in a totally different kind of factory where we earn a living wage and have the right to form a union. We have a voice at our workplace and they really listen to us.”
The positive attitude carries over to the buyers.
Lewis said. “When you read a tag that says, “Thanks to you buying this garment, you’re feeding my family,’ you’ve got to feel good about it.”
Alta Gracia’s line will sell for approximately the same prices at their competitors and is available at the university bookstore now.