October 5, 2007 —
Started in 2000, No Sweat Apparel is dedicated to union-made clothing. Founder Adam Neiman started the company in opposition to the activities of Nike and other major clothing manufacturers. Neiman modeled the company’s shoes after Converse’s old Chuck Taylors’ after Nike purchased Converse. He also challenged Nike to produce a labor disclosure form, which the shoe giant declined to do. Nike has repeatedly claimed that it is impractical for a billion-dollar company to follow No Sweat since Nike purchases from hundreds of factories around the world (Nike does participate in a global program to observe factories). Neiman had worked for Blackspot, an anti-sweatshop company started by Adbusters. When that company decided to use a union shop in Portugal instead of Indonesia, Neiman decided to start his own company and use Indonesian union shops.
No Sweat Apparel is the first open source manufacturer—open source means openly providing information on the source of its clothes. Most clothing companies refuse to provide information regarding their use of cheap labor.
No Sweat uses organic cotton and made waves with its original hemp-based shoes. The company has faced off challenges from activists wary of for-profit companies and has focused on both human rights and environmental issues. It has received support from both Jewish and Muslim publications, purchases textiles from a Palestinian factory, and provides a percentage of the profits to a charity that helps bereaved Palestinians and Israelis. Though the clothing line is limited – it does not yet have shoes other than the sneakers – the company is proving that social responsibility is possible in the global market.