Occidental Students “Rock the Tag” for Alta Gracia


By Mandy Sugrue

Alta Gracia has been hard at work promoting the apparel on campuses across the country.  As our name continues to spread we are excited to see how students are responding to Alta Gracia and promoting the idea and coming up with new and interesting ways to promote our brand.

 At Occidental College in LA, Prof. Peter Dreier has been teaching courses on labor unions and the global economy for over twelve years.  Last spring and currently this fall, Dreier is teaching a freshman seminar on the labor movement, and has mentioned Alta Gracia’s work. Caitlin Rose Ruppel, Carly Kirchen and Helen Wright have been so inspired by what they heard, they have decided to market Alta Gracia Apparel at Occidental College and created the “Rock the Tag” campaign.  Their aim was to make their fellow students aware that because Alta Gracia pays their workers who sew the t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies a “living wage,” it dramatically improves their lives.

 First, Ruppel, Kirchen, and Wright got the Occidental campus bookstore to agree to sell Alta Gracia Apparel and then aggressively promoted the brand campus wide.  They recruited Occidental College President, Jonathan Veitch to join the “Rock the Tag” campaign and he purchased an Alta Gracia t-shirt.  Their marketing strategy is paying off and the first shipment of Alta Gracia has almost sold out. 

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The “Rock the Tag” promotion of Alta Gracia has become a household name on campus and no one is more excited than Professor Dreier, “I’m thrilled about how engaged and innovative my students have become with Alta Graica Apparel, and excited about the work they are doing,”

“It definitely caught me by surprise how quickly I became passionate about supporting Alta Gracia,” Wright admits.  “I feel that it is one of the most important things that students can do for our generation, not just as an issue of morality but also to engage and educate ourselves politically. It is so difficult to find affordable clothing that is created in a fair labor environment not to mention a place where workers are paid a living wage and have health benefits and the right to unionize.  What better place is there to start a movement than a college campus, where there is an already established community and daily interaction between students.”

 What began as a small student project has now begun to engage the entire student body. 

“We are aiming to get local print-screening stores that campus clubs and organizations frequently use to get T-shirts printed for various events etc…” Wright explains.  “We invited the owner of one store to come to campus to hear Maritza Vargas, an Alta Gracia worker, speak about how her life and her community have improved since Alta Gracia began production for colleges in April.  We want Occidental’s bookstore to be a regular Alta Gracia customer.”

 The “Rock the Tag” campaign is what Alta Gracia is all about – combing community and social awareness with creativity and hard work.  Alta Gracia is thrilled about the commitment and support the Oxy students have shown this project and are looking forward to seeing how the “Rock the Tag” campaign will continue to grow.

Above photo: President Jonathan Veitch with students (from left to right) Sarah Barton and Morgan Flake


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