In all the insanity of consumerism, and knowing full well that we contribute a part to its perpetuation, we love knowing about and promoting a new brand that is using consumerism to do something. It’s a larger, layered conversation I know, but today I’m happy to partner with ABLE, to showcase some of their well-made, high-quality basics—in clothing, shoes, jewelry and bags.
But first, things you should know about the brand and what they are striving to do:
- It started with scarves. In Ethiopia, they met with women coming out of the commercial sex industry who asked for help finding jobs. They trained them to make scarves and after selling over 4,000 of them in 2 months, they knew they were onto something. People understood that if you’re committed to ending poverty, you must create jobs, and do so for women. ABLE has grown from hand-woven scarves to a lifestyle brand with leather bags, clothes, shoes, and jewelry.
- Women comprise 95% of the staff at ABLE, but globally women who work in fashion often hold the lowest-paid, least-secure jobs. Yet we know women invest twice as much of their income into their families compared to men. When a woman is economically empowered, her children and community thrive, making her crucial to eradicating poverty. ABLE is committed to ensuring every woman receives treatment and compensation reflective of her immense worth.
- Fashion is one of the largest industrial employers of women worldwide, yet only an estimated 2% of fashion workers are paid a livable wage. They want to change that but know one of the quickest ways companies will change their practices is if their customers demand it. They published their lowest wages in order to give consumers a clear choice to protect the people making their products, and they want other companies to do the same.
I really love that they publish their lowest wages to prove that they are really walking the walk. That’s impressive.
In fact, while I have you talking about this, five years ago, I did help produce, design and curate The Mercantile, the gift show for brands just like this—C-corps who have it in their business model to give back. It was a bit ahead of its time and fizzled out, ironically not very sustainable, but man do I wish it existed now. ABLE would have definitely been featured.
Now let’s talk about the goods. This bag is GREAT, far greater than I thought it was when I first unwrapped it or saw it on their site. But that’s how it goes with basics. They are not meant to be showstoppers and don’t “wow” you until you realize that you are opting for it every day because it’s done right. I started using this bag the day after this shoot and am now sitting at a bar in New York, writing this post, with it on the hook next to me. It is extremely lightweight (good for travel) but sturdy (I loaded it up). It fits a laptop easily and has nice side and inside pockets for phone, wallet, etc.
It’s already getting a really pretty patina and is understated but looks expensive. It’s not your holiday bag, it’s not your statement purse. It’s a good basic that I’ve been opting for since I opened it.
The jeans are black skinnies that you see on the site and think, “yep, those are black skinnies.” But once I put them on, I felt supported without being suffocated, an important distinction in skinny jeans. And I am not sure if you know, but hole-less jeans are back in (this will delight my father-in-law that delights in his oft-told joke about maybe one day I’ll be able to afford new jeans).
I liked the black buttons, too. Again feeling supported without being uncomfortable.
Next up, some really great wide-leg large-hemmed jeans.
How cute are these jeans??? I didn’t know this type of wide structure could truly exist. They have such a good cut that keeps its shape, regardless of how you are standing. I haven’t washed/dried yet to be honest, but we were all shocked at how no matter how I stepped or stood, the straight shape of the leg persevered.
I, again, opted for these jeans the next day and on the plane. They are so comfortable but have some style unlike the typical high waist, wide leg that tells your lunch “no vacancy.”
You might be thinking what I am: the last thing Emily Henderson needs is another pair of mules. This is true. But these are also really great. They are pointy (and thus elongating your leg) and come up higher on your foot which makes it look edgier, plus the heel is big, wide and COMFORTABLE.
They are headed in a timeless version of the cowboy/gaucho trend but easier to pull on and off (literally, you know how I feel about laces…who’s got the time?).
And if you are looking for a simple yet beautiful gift to give your mom, daughter, sister, secret Santa or what have you, here you go:
A pretty necklace that says “mama” (I have it and it’s so cute) and extremely delicate gold hoops that I tried to put on but the left ear didn’t cooperate (apparently it’s closed up, despite my 20-year-old nose ring hole still gaping).
The wallets are a great gift (and at $60 I think it’s a good price for such nice quality). I need a zipper to imprison my chaos, but if you can handle a snap then these are so pretty. They were nice enough to gift my entire team wallets and they love them.
Lastly…I get casual. And happy. And also, we need to talk.
If you believe that objects like furniture, accessories or clothing carry energy (like I do) then you’ll agree that when they are thoughtfully and ethically made, that happiness can be felt by those around those pieces or wearing those clothes. There is little scientific proof of this, YET, it’s more of a spiritual thing for me—believing that all energy transfers, but yes, I believe that a (truly) pasture-raised chicken is better for my family because it hasn’t, well, been tortured its entire life. Its negative energy and hormones aren’t transferred into my or my kids’ bodies. It’s a larger conversation and one that I’ll likely get a lot of push back for, but the gist is that I do care about where things come from.
Sure, with chickens, we are literally consuming it into our bodies, bloodstream, and digestion. But most of you here might agree that antique or vintage furniture and original or handmade art brings soul to a room. That’s “energy,” people. The history of the piece, who crafted it, where it was 10 steps before you ate it affects its energy. Thus, my belief that ethically made fashion makes us feel good when we wear it. Proof, in that photo above.
I realize I’m a walking paradox, contradicting myself at all turns. We create our gift guides, promoting consumerism, then chastise its wastefulness. We love affordable mass retailers because it democratizes design and makes people of all budgets feel proud of their home (thus raising children in warmer, happier homes) but then we tout the benefits of more expensive ethical brands.
My current point of view is truly to offer the best options for all knowing that everybody is in a different place in their life, whether that be in their budgets, style and how they see the world. We support companies that do good things, whether it’s big ones that support our economy and give generously to public education, or small ethically made fashion brands whose mission it is to empower women to end poverty, like ABLE.
I think you know the point here and we are truly trying our best: If you can afford to buy or gift ethically and sustainably with companies like ABLE, please do. The world needs you/us. And if that’s not your budget, we still got you.
Below are some of mine and the team’s favorites, or you can also visit my special landing page over on ABLE with all my picks. Oh, and don’t forget to use code EMILY25 for 25% off your purchase (valid today, 12/7, through 12/9). xx
1. Perez 90mm Booties | 2. Chaltu Top Zip Crossbody | 3. Olga Breton Striped Tee | 4. The Carla High Rise | 5. The Axian Wide Leg Crop | 6. Rojas Western Boot | 7. Navya Dolman Tee | 8. Emnet Foldover Tote | 9. Sonu Feminine Sweatershirt | 10. Celina Ankle Boot | 11. The Adreina Sherpa Jacket | 12. Emerson Scarf | 13. | Alem Continental Wallet 14. Bali Hoops | 15. Postino Earrings
***photography by Veronica Crawford
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