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How many apparel consumers will help “Alta Gracia” pay its employees a “living wage”?

Joseph Bozich, founder of the Spartanburg SC apparel supplier Knights Apparel, is betting that a lot of consumers will do just that. And he’s betting his company’s future on it.

Consumers got a good picture of how this crucial apparel-labor drama is playing out in a Public Broadcasting System “News Hour” vignette last night — Knight Apparel’s “Alta Gracia” factory being a metaphor for the global apparel supply chain: The company contends that, “Alta Garcia is the only clothing factory in the developing world that pays the people who make our clothing a LIVING WAGE – more than 3X the minimum wage.”

How does Bozich do it? It starts in the workplace itself where employee motivation and operational efficiencies cut costs. The company reports that “The Workers Rights Consortium verifies that all workers at Alta Gracia receive a Living Wage, ensure that the workplace is safe and that workers’ rights are respected.”

(See also New York Times article

Of course, at retail there’s a bit of a price premium. But Bozick has shrewdly targeted a consumer segment most likely to meld idealism with wanting T shirts, hoodies etc. that look good and wear well — many college students. So Alta Gracia apparel is now available on some 350 college campuses across the country. And Bozich is confident that the market for “LIVING WAGE apparel” will blossom much further.

If only many of us older folks learn from the younger generation!

(Additionally see and