Fashion Brand ‘Able’ Launches Denim, Publishes Wages, Combats Poverty


When Barrett Ward took a trip to Peru in 2001, he discovered the true meaning of poverty. He calculated that 300 houses could be built there for the amount he paid for his prized Lexus back home.

He soon decided to leave the corporate world to spend time traveling around Africa, where he witnessed more poverty, and the stark reality of women turning to prostitution to support their families. It happened generation after generation, and he wanted to break the cycle.

On that trip to Africa, he met the woman who is now his wife, and as he watched her purchase scarves as gifts for friends and family back home, he hatched a plan.  That plan became Nashville-based ABLE, a fashion company that started with selling scarves made by three women in Ethiopia. They sold more than $4,000 scarves in three months. The company now has 30 women on the job and have sold more than 50,000 scarves.

ABLE went on to launch several more products including bags, shoes, and recently really excellent denim. Not only does it look amazing and fit even my recently larger body really well (and comfortably), it’s also made in Mexico by women who are paid fair wages, with fabric that integrates e3 and BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) cotton along with regular cotton—the company hopes to create its own cotton production and dye processes as it grows.

I tried The Vintage in the Kenny wash (which makes me laugh because I had a boyfriend named Kenny in college who refused to wash his jeans, long before it was cool). Highlights for me are the shade of the wash (not to light or dark), the placement of the knee holes, the frayed hems and he large back pockets. Also, I have nary a gap at the back of my waist, which is a persistent issue for me. They are also dubbed “mid-rise,” but on my 5’4″ body they rise just barely to my belly button which feels just about perfect. The Vintage is made of cotton blended with lyocell, which doesn’t have much stretch but is very soft, so they feel like worn in vintage no-strech jeans.

Lastly, ABLE goes beyond just talking about fair wages. It recently became the first fashion company to publish how much it pays its workers, and is encouraging other fashion brands to do the same. Read more about that here.

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