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Brand Activism – Meeting ABLE

ABLE is a retail space, jewelry workshop, and design platform upholding traditional techniques and a forward-thinking business model that works to give voice and independence to people, namely women, who have been impacted by poverty and addiction. But crucially, ABLE is sending an important message about the deeply flawed, globalized fashion industry’s treatment and value assigned to those manufacturing fashion. Their model addresses disparity in workers’ rights in face of the demands of the industry through acknowledgment and transparency around wages paid to their manufacturers. ABLE is calling for action and representation via their Lowest Wage Challenge campaign.

Founded by Barrett Ward and established in 2010, ABLE is a lifestyle and fashion brand with its flagship and jewelry workshop located in Nashville, Tennessee. Last fall, we had the opportunity to briefly visit the store in The Nation’s Stocking 51 development, and since, have found every opportunity to draw closer to it and some of its creative members – to gather a deeper understanding of their purpose.

The primary mandate of the company is to address generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary life circumstances. Though at the surface you will encounter a label that creates truly stunning, lasting, fashionable product – ABLE also prioritizes that all manufacturing is to take place directly in the communities they strive to impact, both locally and abroad. Currently, they employ women from seven countries, including the U.S., Ethiopia, Mexico, and Peru (to name a few) for the creation of hand-woven scarves, leather goods, denim, footwear, and handmade jewelry. With the clear position that job creation is integral to addressing the poverty issue, ABLE is a working example of a company that has created numerous jobs for women – jobs that ultimately help to illuminate their collective knowledge, culture, and skillsets.

You will also discover that ABLE’s strength is more than job creation. They ask important questions about their action towards the well-being of their workers. Through their campaign, The Lowest Wage Challenge, ABLE exhibits transparency about its operations and emphasizes the fact that 98% of fashion’s manufacturing workers do not earn a living wage to meet their basic needs. This further illuminates that 75% of this figure are women. ABLE seeks to open the dialogue about the ethics of the fashion industry while prioritizing basic human rights and building a culture where people are heard and valued by prompting consumers. ABLE strives to prove that today’s fashion industry is truly able to rectify these issues.

The celebration of women and their creative autonomy is integral in imagining the evolution of the company. ABLE is making an impact on the fashion industry’s modes of manufacturing and ethical production, but they are also creating more opportunities for accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity. We look forward to growing our relationship with ABLE over the coming months and share more about their wonderful business with you.