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The Shirt announces vendor

Sam Stryker | Thursday, January 19, 2012

As students pack Notre Dame Stadium next fall, not only will they be cheering on the Irish in style, but they will also be doing so in a socially conscious fashion.

For the first time ever, The Shirt Project is announcing the identity of their vendor: Alta Gracia Apparel. The company will further the tradition of The Shirt Project, promoting both Notre Dame’s tradition and socially conscious identity.

Junior Andrew Alea, president of The Shirt Project, said Alta Gracia Apparel went beyond The Shirt’s usual tradition of supporting the Notre Dame community.

“The Alta Gracia brand is a socially conscious brand. The shirts are manufactured in a town in the Dominican Republic called Alta Gracia,” he said. “They pay their workers a living wage, which is basically enough to feed, clothe and house their entire family.”

Alea said proceeds from The Shirt would go back to students in various ways, ranging from covering medical costs to funding additional clubs and organizations. Revenues would also help pay for students who could not otherwise afford to participate in campus activities, according to the project’s website.

“It’s an added message to The Shirt,” he said. “In addition to contributing back to the University, now we are contributing back to the world in a sense.”

Alea said he thinks Notre Dame students will appreciate the social significance this year’s Shirt will have.

“By supporting The Shirt, you’re not only supporting Notre Dame student body clubs and activities, but supporting a living wage in the Dominican Republic, which is actually a cool message to have,” he said.

Alea said The Shirt Project has felt the need to explore socially conscious vendor options over the past few years. This year, the offers were competitive enough to move in such a direction, he said.

“Over the past three years, the vendors who have come to present on campus have each been more pushing the socially conscious brands or ideas,” Alea said. “It’s out there, and we felt the time was right to do something about it.”

As this year’s vendor inspires a message of social responsibility, Alea said the unveiling of The Shirt is being planned accordingly.

“We really want to incorporate the story and the added message to the marketing and unveiling of The Shirt,” he said.

Though the vendor and the unveiling may be different this year, Alea said the traditional purpose of The Shirt to inspire Notre Dame fans remains the same.

“The design will be based on tradition, it will not be a socially conscious design,” he said. “[There is] the same design process, the same ink process. The Shirt still fits the same. Everything is the same.”

Senior Paul Baranay, vice president of The Shirt Project, said the selection of a vendor with strong social concerns ties compelled the committee to make the choice public, a change from previous years.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the vendor, and the Committee got the sense the student body was very interested in finding out who the vendor was,” he said. “We think it was a good time to talk to the student body.”

Baranay said that although the same vendor has not produced The Shirt every year, Knight’s Apparel, the parent company of Alta Gracia Apparel, has worked with Notre Dame in the past. He said this was crucial in the partnership, citing a level of familiarity behind the choice of a socially conscious vendor.

“In some sense, we are getting the best of both worlds,” he said.

The Shirt will be unveiled April 20.