The Nashville based company, ABLE, began as an outreach brand for women in need of work with fair pay, specifically in the fashion industry. Their impact and popularity as a support system, as well as a fashion company, has quickly grown around the world. The brand supports and employs women from various countries with a living wage for their services. Each leather good, apparel piece, and jewelry item has been ethically sourced and handmade by these women in need. To take their efforts a step further than any other company, ABLE publishes their wages and auditing reports to maintain a strong trust with their customers.
ABLE’s website and flagship store in the heart of Nashville provide retail access for customers to purchase these sustainable goods and to gain more education on the necessity of sustainable fashion. Despite ABLE’s efforts, fast fashion presents the main challenge for the brand. Merriam-Webster defines fast fashion as “an approach to design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasize making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Companies have found ways of outsourcing production and resources, as a means of creating cheaper and faster alternatives to handmade fashion.
While this allows for more cost-efficient ways of obtaining the newest fashion trends, customer consumption leads to a number of downsides for the industry, including the exploitation of overseas workers, an increase in disastrous environmental effects, and a distorted sense of value just to name a few. The issue for ABLE arises with the lack of consumer awareness. Marketers have convinced Americans to adopt habits of buying for quantity rather than for quality. Ideas such as the stigma around not wearing the same outfit twice and “keeping up with the Jones’s” have been implanted into consumers’ purchasing mindsets for years, and companies like ABLE feel the heat from it.
ABLE’s mission of ethically sourced and produced consumer goods provides their main form of combat against these fast trends in the industry. Creating a classic look that is fairly priced based on the high quality creates a candid relationship with customers. Educating their customers and creating awareness around the issues within the fashion industry stands as step one of two for the company to successfully maintain sales in a fast fashion driven world. Continuing the brand outreach and the positive economic impact on lower income areas for women serves as the second of the two necessary steps for ABLE. Fast fashion items may be cheaper, but the negative environmental, economic, and health effects do not stand a chance against brands like ABLE.