The Chronical (Duke University) - By Gloria Lloyd - February 8, 2012. In Fall 2010, Duke became the first university to place an order with Alta Gracia, an apparel factory committed to ethical working standards. Eighteen months later, more than 400 universities have followed suit.
According to a recent report by Georgetown University, the University’s initial investment seems to have paid off, leading to high profits and public support. Lead researchers John Kline and Ed Soule determined that Alta Gracia’s apparel sells at the same rate as comparable products and sees the same profit margins as competing brands. Dominican Republic-based Alta Gracia stands apart from its competitor as the first apparel factory to offer employees a living wage.
“Alta Gracia is succeeding,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, a nonprofit organization of more than 100 colleges who monitor college apparel factory conditions. “This study demonstrates that apparel companies don’t have to make their products in a sweatshop to be successful.”
Jim Wilkerson, director of trademark licensing and stores operations at Duke, said he is not surprised at the findings.
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