Getting There: Economic Aspects of Dove Apparel’s Distribution, Trade, and Transport

Blog #4

Erin Andersen

Dove Professional Apparel: Distribution, Trade and Transport: Economic

 

Dove Professional Apparel distributes their nursing uniforms to hundreds of nursing schools across the nation, including the Point Loma Nazarene University nursing program. Dove has been able to make a name for themselves as an ethically conscious company. As nursing prospects typically have high levels of social concern for the health and fair treatment of humans, the connection between nursing and fair trade is likely here to stay. Economically, the connection seems to be successful as well, both for the consumer and the producer.

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According to a fair trade article written by a PLNU Alum Jessica Gerardy Petrencsik, Dove Apparel at least used to manufacture their goods right here in California. As a company based in San Diego, California, the brand wouldn’t have to transport their products far in order to get them to headquarters. Because we were not able to find any current information on their manufacturing location, we’ve speculated that they have moved their manufacturing to somewhere more efficient economically: Mexico. This does not necessarily mean they would eliminate their fair trade practices, nor their fair social conditions for workers. But were our assumption correct, it would imply that Dove Apparel’s economic investments would have to shift.

Moving the manufacturing from California to Mexico would mean allocating more spending towards the transportation of goods. Even if the production were relatively close to the US/Mexico border, not only would efficiency in time when transporting goods to customers suffer, but transporting between nations means increased spending in order to move products back into the United States. There could be money lost in terms of excess freight, gas, customs, additional repairs, etc.

But Dove Apparel can offset these implications in other ways. According to their website, they claim to reuse shipping boxes three or four times after the transport process has completed. And although they might pay more for better and more efficient production, they will receive a better quality item which will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

They also maintain their ethical stand by distributing over $20,000 in free uniforms each year, and help students who have been through disasters, such as those who live in New Orleans or Galveston, TX, by providing free replacement uniforms to those who have suffered great losses.

Setting a high standard for uniform carriers, Dove Apparel is an ethical organization Point Loma is proud to purchase from. Their distribution, trade, and transportation methods continue to shift, and like any company there will be economic ups and downs. But according to thelayoff.com, the company has seen been in an economic upswing. In 2004 the estimated revenue was $1.6 million, while in 2007 estimated revenue was $2.7 million. Indeed, nursing uniforms are not a product that will be affected by a recession–nurses will always be in high demand, thus nursing uniforms will be as well. As a PLNU partner, we hope to see Dove Apparel continuing to upgrade its fair trade agenda as it continues to see success in economic gain.

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Getting There: Economic Aspects of Dove Apparel’s Distribution, Trade, and Transport

Economic Leverage of a Sustainable Company: Patagonia’s Commercialization and Consumption

Blog #12

Erin Andersen

Patagonia: Commercialization and Consumption: Economic

 

When it comes to Patagonia’s customer base, there is an increasing dichotomy between the social groups purchasing their products. After commercialization projects like the 2011 Black Friday advertisement, on one hand their ethical consumers are buying carefully out of necessity and willingness to support a company with clear motives, while binge shoppers are buying Patagonia products out of a “want”-driven style agenda. Socially, the dichotomy is easy to witness. Economically, the occurrence is backed by statistics. According to Business Week, after The New York Times “buy less” ad campaign, Patagonia sales increased almost one-third, to $543 million, as the company opened 14 more stores. And in 2012, revenue ticked up another 6 percent, to $575 million. In short, the pitch helped crank out $158 million worth of new apparel. Estimations carry Patagonia revenue upwards to an increase of 15% per year.

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Patagonia’s “Worn wear” Promotion in The Boston Globe

 

These numbers seem fairly polar of the advertisements’ aims. Is the company just feigning opposition to capitalism? Yvon Choinard, the company’s founder and CEO, says that the revenue born from these advertisements come from customers that are wanting to be part of the environmental movement that Patagonia offers. But it could fill consumers with pseudo-ethical feelings. Primarily, customers are not changing their morals by purchasing products. There must be another step. This is where Patagonia employs their “pledges”, like the Common Threads Partnership, in which they aim to foster a community of conscious consumers. If customers are willing to stick to the consumption tactics that Patagonia models, there might end up being true change in the economic system of global consumption.

 

In light, the company is headed down the right path. In fact, 41,377 used Patagonia items have been sold through the Common Threads storefront on eBay. And according to their website, post-consumption statistics show that 26,078 pieces have been repaired since January 2012, and 56.6 tons of Patagonia wear has been recycled since July 2005.

 

So as long as the PLNU Sustainability Department and like-minded organizations are willing to take care of their products, invest in fixing them when they are broken, and recycle them when their wearable life has ended, the corporate responsibility of Patagonia can be honored, and the brand will continue to see economic and social success all the way from production, to commercialization, to distribution, to expiration.

Economic Leverage of a Sustainable Company: Patagonia’s Commercialization and Consumption

Should I Buy This Jacket: Social Implications of Patagonia’s Commercialization and Consumption

Blog #11

Erin Andersen

Patagonia: Commercialization and Consumption: Social

When Patagonia released their 2011 ad campaign for Black Friday in The New York Times, it was a big shock to modern advertisement regimes. In a day where modern advertisements are all about subliminal messaging, a “sex sells” mantra and ultra-flashy production, the campaign was a simple display with a simple message: ‘Do Not Buy This Jacket’ written across a plain white background above the photo of a grey fleece jacket. Some interpretations wrote that it was all about reverse psychology; others claimed they were hoping to reach a more hip, counter-cultural market.

Patagonia’s 2011 Black Friday Advertisement in The New York Times

But according to Patagonia, the ad they ran in the New York Times was sincere. They say they wanted to address “head on” the problem with consumption during the time when consumption is at its peak. According to their blog, the ad was geared towards customers, who need to think twice before they buy, but also towards businesses, who need to make fewer things but of higher quality. The company understands that “everything we make takes something from the Earth that we can’t give back.”

Indeed, corporate responsibility includes responsible marketing. The social implications of the technique were resounding. Both old and new customers pledged towards the linked Common Threads Initiative, in which customers promise to wring the life out of their Patagonia wear by reducing consumption, repairing what breaks, recirculating what they no longer use, recycling or re-purposing what wears out, and reimagining a world where they take only what nature can replace. Another set of customers bought the jacket in mass. In fact, after the article ran, Business Week statistics showed an increase in people that buying that jacket, as well as most other Patagonia products. Maybe it was because it got the brand name out to individuals who haven’t heard of them before; maybe it was because the agenda of the modern consumer is sown far deeper than what was once thought.

The Black Friday advertisement is a clear depiction of the type of commercialization that Patagonia aims for. Since the 2011 ad they have ran more campaigns with similar slogans, such as “Better than New”, and “Worn Wear: The Stories We Wear”. Patagonia writes that it is part of their mission to inspire and implement solutions to the social and environmental crises. The Department of Sustainability within Point Loma’s physical plant decided years ago that Patagonia’s methods of dealing with consumption problems were worth the steep prices of product, so when jackets were needed for Sustainability employees, they chose to purchase from the brand. Could Sustainability have been even more consumption-conscious buy purchasing used gear, or putting PLNU patches on clothing that employees already owned? Probably. But the honest commercialization of Patagonia has been twisted by consumers into a popular social phenomenon where consumers can look the part of an ethical shopper but don’t always have to act it. Its functionality as a product is undermined by the pursuit of fashion, and as the outdoors-man/woman model becomes more popular, the company is likely to gain even more customers who don’t follow their principles.

So while a consistency of socially ethical customers is hard to reach, Patagonia says they will continue to commit to being a company that promotes building a better product, regarding quality over quantity, working fair labor practices and implement safe working conditions throughout the Patagonia supply chain.

Whether their customers follow suit is a different story.

Should I Buy This Jacket: Social Implications of Patagonia’s Commercialization and Consumption

Dove Apparel – Commercialization / Consumption (Social Aspect)

Blog#5 James Seals. Socially conscious products are goods that help support the improvement of social conditions in developing nations. Fair trade certified products are one popular example of socially conscious certifications consumers will notice when shopping for goods. Items that dedicate a portion of their proceeds to improving social issues will positively affect the lives of people living in developing countries if these additional proceeds are managed and utilized effectively. But unfortunately there are many issues with socially conscious products because many companies use these labels as marketing ploys to attract socially conscious consumers. Dove apparel is the organization used by Point Loma to supply its nursing students with uniforms. At first glance Dove Apparel appears to be a company that concerns themselves with social injustice. They openly advertise that their company has a high intolerance for garment sweat shops and that they foster fair labor practices with their organization. These insure that workers receive fair wages, work regular hours, receive benefits and work in a safe environment. They also promote that their organization is one that is environmental conscious and is certified as a green business by Co-Op America. But upon further review of the company’s website these claims start to lose some of their validity and makes you question whether this company is as socially conscious as they portray. One of the biggest concerns found on their site is claiming all their sewing partners are licensed by the California Department of Labor. According to an article online addressing Dove’s recent acquisitions of a third manufacturing facility, Dove’s production plants are located in both California and Mexico. If it is true that Dove’s operations expand into Mexico, collectively stating that their sewing partners are all licensed by the California Department of Labor is false. The California Department of Labor does not have jurisdiction in Mexico so it is impossible to know if fair labor practices are being used by their partners in Mexico. In addition when they claim that they are an environmentally conscious company and are certified as a green business many would believe that these qualifications would hold the organization to higher environmental standards. When reviewing the short list of operations qualifying Dove Apparel for this certification, some of the meager qualification included, “Keeping the doors open for fresh air unless it’s really hot or cold” or “Using real towels and biodegradable soap in our bathrooms”. These are all great ways for individuals to incorporate sustainable practices into their daily life, but such minimal environmental dedication should not certify this company as a green business. Customized nursing uniforms fall into quite a niche market, local suppliers are most likely scarce and for that reason Dove Apparel may be the most cost effective and ethical choice for now. Next year when Point Loma decides to purchase nursing uniforms other options should be explored. There are most likely other organizations that can provide equivalent service but with stronger social and environmental commitments.

Dove Apparel – Commercialization / Consumption (Social Aspect)

Patagonia – Distribution / Trade & Transport (Social Aspect)

Blog #9 James Seals. The transportation and distribution of products is generally viewed as a business activity where the ultimate goal is to minimize these activities costs, insuring greater profitability. But when reflecting upon the vast amount of regions in the world that are impacted by the effects of international trade and distribution more than the bottom line comes into play. The garment industry is one that heavily relies on trade and transportation. The supply chain of the garment industry is complex and often requires multiple stages of transportation. Each phase of the transportation process takes its toll on the environment due to the amounts of carbon released into the atmosphere and the required infrastructure to support its use. The amount of transportation needed each year to support our global economy has played a large role in climate change and environmental degradation. These two problems directly affect people living in rural poverty and it is these individuals who are responsible for producing the materials required to make our clothing. International trade also affects the wages these rural farmers earn each year since large farming operations funded by corporations lower the market rate for raw materials. When large farms over saturate the market with raw materials small rural farmers are not able to harvest enough crops to earn a profit suitable to support their livelihood.

Fortunately there are companies like Patagonia that aim to resolve or mitigate social or environmental issues within their supply chain. Although Patagonia is involved in international transportation, with suppliers, manufacturers and distributors around the world, unlike other businesses they create sustainable strategies that mutually benefit all parties in their supply chain. Patagonia does this by developing strong personal relationships with their suppliers and manufacturers. Patagonia recently partnered with Fair Trade USA to ensure rural farmers throughout their supply chain are receiving fair wages for their services. Products sold with fair trade labels are purchased at a guaranteed floor price and receive a social premium. These additional costs are absorbed by retail and wholesale companies and the additional revenue is distributed to communities where the products are originally produced. Fair trade is very unique because it is not based on modifying how goods are produced but instead improves the price producers receive for the products they make. Fair trade is a great system because it allows producers in developing nations to receive fair payment for their work without institutional influence. This lack of influence allows producers to invest their additional earnings the way they desire. They are given the freedom to reinvest their earnings into the betterment of their families, communities and businesses which often results in better quality goods and larger product yields. The fair trade certification not only betters the lives of rural farmers but is better for the planet as well. This is because fair trade certified growers are required to follow internationally monitored environmental standards, empowering farmers with financial incentives and resources for organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education.

Patagonia continuously works on improving social conditions and reducing their impact on the environment. In regards to trade, Patagonia goes above and beyond the call of duty to insure that their role in global transportation and trade is not detrimental to the planet or their workers within its supply chain. When Point Loma purchases clothing from Patagonia it insures the use of fair trade practices and supports environmental sustainability.

Patagonia – Distribution / Trade & Transport (Social Aspect)

Patagonia – Distribution / Trade and Transport (Economic Aspect)

Blog #10 James Seals. Distribution, trade and transportation are aspects often overlooked by consumers in regards to manufacturing clothes. When shopping for clothes people frequently observe that their clothing is manufactured overseas in nations like China, India or Bangladesh and consumers never fully realize the costs associated with shipping these items around the world. The supply chain of most consumer goods can be divided into three main areas: purchasing, manufacturing, and transportation. Of these three divisions transportation has the greatest cost influence within a supply chain. Most often people believe that manufacturing and purchasing are the main drivers but this is not the case. Companies in the business of manufacturing clothes constantly look for clever ways to cut back on manufacturing costs, often you leading to the all familiar outsourcing solution. Companies need to take a hard look at where they source their products because with increasing transportation costs there is no longer a large cost incentive for buying cheaper goods in foreign markets like China. This is why a number of companies are beginning to turn away from outsourcing their production.

Patagonia is a prime example of a company that pays remarkably close attention to their supply chain. They are a unique organization because not only do they make some of the highest quality and sought after clothes, they do so in a way that is socially and environmentally conscious while earning respectable profits. Patagonia reduces their transportation costs and their impact on the environment by strategically and ethically sourcing manufacturing plants closer to their suppliers of raw materials and shipping ports. By strategically placing manufacturing closer to suppliers and shipping sources this cuts down material costs and reduces the distance needed to transport raw goods and finished products. Patagonia also accounts for shipment efficiency by using more fuel efficient methods of transportation and by consolidating products into larger but fewer shipments. For conscious consumers this company is the pinnacle of excellence. Point Loma’s sustainability department has made an excellent decision by sourcing uniform apparel from this organization.

Patagonia – Distribution / Trade and Transport (Economic Aspect)

Dove Apparel Social Aspects of Distribution, Trade, and Transport

Blog #3 Kirstie Hibbard. Dove claims that their uniforms are manufactured in completely sweatshop-free facilities and that their sewing partners are assessed by the California Department of Labor.  According to their website, Dove employees are treated fairly, earning decent wages, receive medical insurance, paid vacations, and retirement plans. As for their distribution, trade, and transport, there are three easy steps provided on their website. The first step is simply to sign up and create an account, the second is to select your school program, and third, order the uniform products required by your program. The uniforms are shipped to your school and then distributed to nursing students.  Dove really provides not information on how their materials are distributed and traded, and how their products get to consumers.

According to Co-Op America, Dove has been certified as a Green Business, and has been referred by fair trade sites.  They assert that they are advocates of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” campaign, minimizing consumption and carbon footprint. While the direct employees seem to be cared for and the carbon footprint is looked after, there is no explicit explanation of the trade of the product. This leads us to question the actual source of the dove’s raw materials, namely cotton. Not only do we question the source of cotton, but also the mode of transportation for products. If the company is committed to reducing their carbon footprint, what are their exact steps taken to do this?

According to KPBS, the demands for Dove Professional Apparel and similar products have been in increasing demand. New COO of Dove Professional Apparel, Rick Bigelow, says that demand is so high they needed to add a third manufacturing location, in addition to their existing two. Again the manufacturing location is not disclosed, although it can be assumed that the cotton is sourced somewhere both nearby and inexpensive —Mexico being the most likely candidate. So again we are being informed that the products are in high demand, but not sure where they are coming from and how they are getting to where they need to go.

With the information provided on the Dove website and reviews provided by outside sources, we are able to deduce that Dove is headed in the right direction in terms of social responsibility. The fact that they are accredited by the California Department of Labor, and verified as a Green Business gives reason to support Dove, but the company does not seem to be offering complete transparency at this time. If all of their sources and manufacturing plants, trading partners, and modes of transportation were provided publically on their website, it would be easy to say that they are a good company to support.

As far as sources for nursing scrubs go, Point Loma has made a wise choice. In exploring Dove’s competition, other companies seem to be offering little to no information on where their products are sources and produced. Dove can stand to improve their transparency, but is headed in the right direction. Because Point Loma’s nursing department requires bulk amounts of identical uniforms in a variety of sizes, Dove is arguably the best choice for now.

http://dove.telligem.com/betterworld

https://www.doveapparel.com/betterworld.

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/may/13/grocery-clothing-wholesalers-stock-market-demand-r/

Dove Apparel Social Aspects of Distribution, Trade, and Transport