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.
Get The Look: Jeans | Shirt (similar) | Sweater (similar) | Boots (similar) | Purse
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.
Get The Look: Jeans | Shirt (similar) | Blazer (similar) | Mules
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.
Get The Look: Pants | Shirt (similar) | Sweatshirt | Jacket | Necklace
That’s a cute hoodie with white ties, a jean jacket with pockets and a big mouth of laughter. Why? Well, I have some thoughts.
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
One way EHD could also do more to counter being its part in the consumption conundrum would be more posts on how to refresh/modify furniture and home decor that may be a bit past their design expiration date (beyond just a paint job). I’d also love to learn more about how to integrate sustainability considerations more into all design decisions … in other words, integrate it into all of the posts written.
Yes yes yes! Any in lieu of modifying old furniture, simply just working with something you have and can’t or don’t want to replaces always welcome.
Aaaaaaack! And this is why I love Emily Henderson. She is my thoughts twin. I agree with everything said here and believe it is sooooo important to support these brands. Unfortunately, we live in a capitalist system where the right thing won’t be done by companies unless we vote for it with our dollars. I’m all about vintage when possible because it’s the best thing for the planet, but obviously you need some new stuff too. I get that it’s more expensive to buy the ethically made things (and I’m not made of money, so I’m not speaking from a place of privilege) but I also think if we buy less, but higher quality things that last longer, it becomes more affordable. And really, it’s not that the cheaper unethically made thing is a better price that something should actually be, it’s just that low because the makers are being paid in slave wages, and that “savings” is being passed onto you. And YES to the energy of things! Especially food! Who would want to eat an animal that’s been tortured and is full of stress hormones. We are INGESTING that. Gross. If you’re gonna eat an animal, it should… Read more »
This holiday season – as I consider about my new years resolution to come – I have been thinking a lot about consumerism and the blogs I follow. The business model has become such that it is like following personal, friendly, engaging but incredibly effective ad agencies. It is why I found your thrift hauls so refreshing, and the move towards breaking down renovation conundrums really interesting content. It is interesting to see you tackle the idea of sustainable / ethical buying power in a thoughtful way – and I would love to see more in that vein (perhaps even outside the advertisement model). Thanks for all the lovely content I enjoy on the regular!
Hi! I think you mean BCorps, not C corps?
Thank you for featuring ABLE – I love them and love seeing you talk about them! I appreciate your thoughts on this whole topic.
I really appreciate it when you tackle things like ethical consumerism, especially when there are so many products being hawked at consumers this time of year. I think you meant B-Corp instead of C-Corp… A B-Corp, or Benefit Corporation, has a pretty strict screening process to receive the title, which includes a focus on purpose, accountability, and transparency within the organization. A C-Corp is any corporation which is taxed separately from it’s owners, such as Amazon, URBN, or Target. If you did mean B-Corp, it would be really interesting to see you highlight more companies specifically within this realm, I personally prefer to spend my money at companies that are doing good for the world, and wish that we were exposed more frequently to these products.
I sometimes think about what I would choose to do with my money, if all of a sudden I had much more. On the top of the list is to buy exclusively from companies like these. Everyone’s conscience says something different, but right now mine is to buy thrifted for 90 percent of what I own. I would love it if one day I can buy from companies like these. Thank you for highlighting them.
Shopping 90 percent thrifted is amazing. That IS goals for me. Thanks for your care for our planet.
I have a leather wallet from ABLE and it is truly lovely. It’s been my daily wallet for over a year and it only looks better with time. It was worth every penny!
Lovely. But pleeezzzzeee more of your friend Suzanne’s special fashion inspiration. I feel like I could do these lewks on my own.
Sorry but I’ll keep my skinny ripped jeans over these wide cuffed ones. Do these flatter anyone who isn’t 6 feet tall? And my father-in-law would think these are even uglier!
I’m 5’2” and I’ve found the high-waisted wide leg pants to be surprisingly flattering. I think the key is finding fabric with the right structure and a good cropped length.
I agree. I’m 5’6″ and love high waisted, wide leg jeans. Finding the right length is KEY though, for sure. I’ve tried on many a pair that hit at the wrong part of my leg/ankle and make me look terribly stumpy and wide.
The wide leg jeans are so amazing on you!
I thought the same thing! That second look is perfect on her!
Thanks! Totally helped me cross off some names on my Christmas gift list!! Share more favorite ethical (or eco-friendly) companies please! I’m always on the look out for some!
Just bought lots of Christmas gifts from Able. Thank you for the recommendation!
As a blogger I struggle constantly with promoting consumerism yet wanting to be more ethical as well… I’ve always supported vintage, but I am trying to really research other companies before promoting them. It hurts my affiliate income of course, but I want to leave the earth better than I left it which is more important to me than having a fat wallet. (I mean right now my wallet unhealthily skinny, but that’s another story…)