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Shirt Project’s vendor revealed

Nicole McAlee | Friday, February 8, 2013


With the announcement that The Shirt Project will use Alta Gracia as its vendor again this year, proceeds from the sale of The Shirt will continue to improve the lives of apparel factory workers in Villa Altagracia, Dominican Republic.

The 2013 Shirt marks the second collaboration between Notre Dame and Alta Gracia, a brand division of Knights Apparel that provides licensed apparel to universities around the country. Alta Gracia’s stated commitment to providing its workers with a living wage makes it a unique vendor.

Knights Apparel founder and CEO Joe Bozich said it has been independently verified that Alta Gracia pays its workers a living wage.

“This means they are getting paid the amount of money required for their family to meet all of life’s necessities, including food, water, clothing, housing, and energy, healthcare, child care, transportation and education,” Bozich said. “We have included in the wages paid to the employees enough money so they can afford to send their children to school, get an education and have hope for a better future.

“Alta Gracia is a pathway out of poverty and hope for a better future for the people making this college apparel.”

Junior Catherine Simonson, a Shirt Project Executive Committee member in charge of ­­media and public relations, said the decision to use Alta Gracia again was based on the quality of its product and its commitment to workers’ rights.

“They were a top runner to begin with,” Simonson said. “Their presentation was just extremely impressive, and we did consider a couple of different vendors, but at the end of the day, it was pretty unanimous that we wanted Alta [Gracia] again.”

Simonson said the company pays its workers in the Dominican Republic more than 340 percent of what the law requires them to pay.

“We’re really happy to work with them again,” she said.

Simonson noted Notre Dame’s contributions to Alta Gracia have been significant.

“Last year, the opportunity afforded by The Shirt Committee paid 135 workers and their families a living wage, which was the largest single school commitment to Alta Gracia for 2012,” Simonson said.

Bozich said the relationship between Notre Dame and Alta Gracia is founded on a strong, shared dedication to justice, dignity and hope for workers.

“[Notre Dame and Alta Gracia] have something very important in common, and that is a commitment to social justice,” he said. “Through the charitable nature of The Shirt program, [Notre Dame] and The Shirt program are providing hope for those in need and those less fortunate.”

Simonson couldn’t divulge any details about the design of the 2013 Shirt, which will officially be unveiled April 19, but she promised it would be worth the wait.

“People [from The Shirt Committee] just went down to one of the warehouses in South Carolina to go see a couple markups of The Shirt design that we have right now,” Simonson said. “We have some really cool stuff in the works.”