Monday, October 15, 2012

Good Business: Vapor Apparel

I don't like buying new clothes because I never know what kind of shady business practices, environmental devastation and worker exploitation I may be supporting with my fresh threads. We'll, I was so excited by a shirt produced by Vapor Apparel, that I pressed them for answers, asking about their labor practices (their website already has lots of great language about environmental sustainability, etc...). This is the response I got. Figured I'd share. This is the kind of business I can feel good about supporting.

Hello Martin,

We work with one mill partner in an exclusive manner. This location has three generations of families fully employed in the heart of Bogota. The mill has been inspected by New Balance and others for fair labor practices and exceeded all requirements. On a personal level, my partner and I are down there frequently. The facility is immaculate. The company has been an innovator in all aspects for business since the 1960’s. Emp
loyees are respected and receive a wage above the localized average. There are medical facilities on site. As a matter of fact, the mill owners own heart arrhythmia was diagnosed by the on site doctor two years ago. There is very little turn over which is a result of a genuine appreciation for each other that the employees and the employers have for one another.

The media has a role to play in the description on labor markets. Colombia has a peppered past with regards to labor rights. What I have learned as I have grown older is that “everything is local”. There are beautiful houses in bad neighborhoods. There are pockets of joy in every miserable place. Colombia is on the way up with regards to quality of life for most of its people. There are issues between the indigenous people and the Hispanic people. Again, everything is local.

I can tell you that I am very proud of the quality of life of the people inside our supply chain. We pay more then people coming out of asia with products. Our 35 domestic employees enjoy a wonderful work environment as well. Respect is something near and dear to my heart. Being raised middle class by an immigrant blue collar grandmother has played a major part in my view of the world. Time and time again, my partner Jackson and I find ourselves int he position of ding the right thing....again.

Please let me know if you need additional information to have a level of comfort with our labor position.


Chris Bernat