“Only 2% of fashion workers make a wage that meets their basic needs, but if brands absorbed the cost of bringing workers to a living wage, it would likely only cost between 1-3% of the cost of the garment.”
When I first read this, I was stunned. How can it be that such a huge industry that most of us women in the US engage with on a regular basis is not meeting the needs of nearly all of its workers? It’s hard to imagine what their life would feel like—working for a large and industrialized low-paying fashion company because there may be no other options. The job is unreliable and insufficient, so a woman’s family, her children, suffer as a result.
Our recent partners at ABLE (previously, Live Fashionable), have shared these eye-opening statistics. On a global scale, we see that “women are concentrated in the lowest-paid and least secure jobs, making them—and their children—more vulnerable to poverty. Last year, 82% of all wealth created went to the top 1%, while the bottom 50% saw no increase at all.”
But ABLE has done far more than research. They’ve paved the way for other fashion industries by publishing their wages and by creating jobs designed to empower women and end generational poverty. Their manufacturers work in the communities that they are aiming to impact, in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Peru. They provide women in the fashion industry with a proper wage, safe working conditions, and equal treatment.
ABLE is unique among many other fashion companies though because of their decision to publish their wages. Their dream is that within the next 10 years, this practice will become as common as publishing nutritional facts on foods in the grocery store. In the image here, they’ve publicly shown the lowest wage that they offer. How inspiring (and incentivizing) is this honesty for other companies to do likewise!
In our recent shipment, we stocked up on a variety of items from ABLE, including leather bags, totes, wallets, clutches, and wristlets. They’re all in a natural color palette, so will easily fit right alongside any outfit, any time of the year. Most importantly, they are fair products. One of our new bags is the Mihiret Bucket Bag, named after its maker: “Miheret, whose name means ‘mercy,’ is 20 years old and has worked at the factory in Ethiopia for almost 2 years. At the factory, she works as a stitcher. Because of her work, Mihiret is able to support her family and save for her future.”
In an industry like fashion that employs 45 million women worldwide, we must be knowledgeable about where our products come from, and who they come from. If most of these employees cannot meet their basic needs, this problem cannot be ignored. But if we can show our compassion with our choices, the unfair system will not be perpetuated. If we take a little time to find and support companies like ABLE, our purchase could make all the difference in one woman’s life.
* Click here to view a short animated video by ABLE explaining their process.
* Follow this link to shop our products from ABLE.