The Common Good
March-April 2003

Best Practices: Changing Clothes

by Rose Marie Berger, Kate Bowman | March-April 2003

No Sweat apparel has a strict dress code: union-made only.

No Sweat apparel has a strict dress code: union-made only. Founded in 2000 as a subsidiary of the social start-up Bienestar International, the No Sweat label is a casual clothing line produced entirely by independent trade unions worldwide. The brand relies on direct, Internet-based marketing for distribution, which saves on advertising and makes possible a competitive product and living wage.

No Sweat's long-term objective is to own and operate most of its business in "model factories," which are located in free trade zones in the developing world where union shops can serve as catalysts for change. No Sweat is already outsourcing to a unionized widows' cooperative in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where they hope to discourage a new wave of sweatshops while simultaneously stimulating the region's unstable economy. Sounds to us like a fashion statement.

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