Alta Gracia Success at NYU - Bookstore Manager Tells All


NYU Bookstore manager, Phil Christopher shares how he first got involved with Alta Gracia, why he decided to sell it at the campus bookstore, and the secret to its high success.

NYU was an early member of the Worker Rights Association.  Our students are a socially conscious group and membership in this organization was a natural.  We had been following and encouraging some of the efforts of late to improve the working conditions of the people who make our clothing.  Alta Gracia fit the bill with its forward looking business model and dedication to its employees.
Our students have been hugely receptive to both the Alta Gracia story, and also to the quality and style of the product itself.  Its been a great success.

We decided early on to give the product a prominent position in our store - just as you walk in off Broadway.  We have also featured Alta Gracia in our Broadway show windows.  The merchandising materials that we have received have been very effective in drawing the customer to the social responsibility story, and the product itself than closes the sale!

The reception from both students and the general public has been great.  We have realized almost 150,000.00 is sales in just the first 7 months of.  Almost 6000 units! We are very pleased and believe that Holiday sales should continue this success.  The Alta Gracia sales team has been a pleasure to work with and are very receptive to our ideas on colors and styles.  We look forward to seeing more and more product from them.

My best advice to other store managers is to work with student organizations on campus to get the word out, and then display the product in a high traffic area. Let the Alta Gracia story be an important part of the product.


I also want to share the letter from a student coalition here at NYU (including a photo of the students presenting me with the letter).  We worked with them early on when we first brought Alta Gracia into the store and they are why I initially became interested in sourcing Alta Gracia in my store!


Dear Mr. Christopher,

As a growing coalition of student clubs and organizations on campus, we wanted to express our gratitude and excitement that this week you will be finalizing an initial order with Alta Gracia Apparel.

As you know, for over ten years the university community has been striving to ensure that college logo apparel is made in factories where workers' basic rights are respected. With Alta Gracia, this goal has become a reality for the first time. Alta Gracia is currently the only factory producing university clothing where workers are earning wages sufficient to enable their families to rise out of dire poverty. This unprecedented achievement - which major apparel brands for years insisted would be impossible - is a testament to the powerful role that universities can play when they stand up for change.

We hope that Alta Gracia will set a new precedent in the global garment industry--that one day, all factories will be unionized, provide healthcare benefits, and pay their workers a living wage. Alta Gracia is able to respect workers' rights because it has a different kind of business model: instead of the "race to the bottom," in which apparel brands move from factory to factory in search of the lowest prices and fastest production, Alta Gracia has made a commitment to sourcing from this factory at fair prices that allow them to sustain unprecedented wages and working conditions. In the same way, university bookstores must make large and long-term purchase orders to do their part to support this business model - a model that is essential to ensuring sweatshop-free conditions in facilities making college apparel.
While we recognize that the size of the initial order will only be a starting point, we hope that NYU will soon demonstrate its leadership by committing to purchase a larger percentage of its basic t-shirts and sweatshirts from Alta Gracia than any other college bookstore in the country. We want our purchase order to reflect just how much NYU students, faculty, and administrators are dedicated to raising the standard of living for workers everywhere. Our coalition looks forward to working with you and the bookstore staff in the future to make this a reality.

Again, thank you for bringing Alta Gracia to NYU’s campus this week and for all the support you have given for worker’s rights as a leading member of the Workers Rights Consortium! We look forward to seeing this leadership continue with strong commitment to sweatshop-free apparel in our bookstore.


The Coalition for Alta Gracia at NYU

The Coalition currently includes:

Oxfam America at NYU, Queer Union, Slow Food at NYU, Net Impact at Stern, Community Ag Club, Amnesty International, Graduate Students Organizing Committee, CROOTS, Law Students for Economic Justice, Ubuntu, Gallatin Americas Scholars, Albert Gallatin Scholars, MLK Scholars, LUCHA, Gallatin Cooking Committee, Environmental Studies Club, Delta Lambda Phi at NYU, Inter Varsity Multi-ethnic Christian Fellowship, Gallatin Green Team, Gallatin Consciousness Club, Gallatin Design Collective, Edible Gardens Club, The Cleftomaniacs, and the Buffalo Tucson Alliance at NYU.


For other opportunities to get more involved with the Alta Gracia check out:    

Like us on Facebook. Tag us and post photos of you and your friends sporting your Alta Gracia gear. Show your campus bookstore some love and post those photos on their page too.

Follow us on Twitter. Tweet about us, retweet us, and of course don’t forget to send some shout outs to your campus bookstore for carrying Alta Gracia.




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